Israeli Lifeguard Finds 900-Year-Old Oil Lamp on Beach During Morning Jog

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Instead of simply finding seashells or driftwood on the beach, a lifeguard in Israel discovered a historic treasure, The Jerusalem Post reports: a clay oil lamp dating back to the 12th century CE.

Meir Amsik was taking a morning jog in Tel Ashkelon National Park, which sits near the ancient port city of Ashkelon and contains the archaeological remains of a major Philistine city. During his workout, Amsik noticed that a portion of a nearby cliff had eroded. Amsik made a detour to investigate the collapse, and spotted the tiny, red-hued lamp lying in the rubble.

"I went over there, and saw that intriguing candle lying there in its entirety," Amsik told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "I thought it might be an ancient artifact, so I picked it up."

Amsik showed the lamp to a colleague, and they decided to contact the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Experts analyzed the lamp and dated it back to the beginning of the 12th century CE, during Israel’s Crusader era.

Even though hundreds of years had passed, archaeologists could still detect signs of wear and soot on the lamp’s opening.

“The candle represents part of the cultural richness of the ancient city of Ashkelon, which was a city of commerce,” IAA archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor said in a press statement. “In Ashkelon, the port’s function is to import goods from the sea, as well as to export manufactured goods from all parts of southern Israel.”

[h/t Jerusalem Post]