As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
An archaeological investigation into Byzantine-era refuse pits revealed the truth behind this adage after researchers discovered an astonishing number of artifacts buried in pits on the Israeli central coast, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The largest of the pits measures close to 30 meters (about 98 feet) across and was filled with the animal bone fragments and pottery shards one might expect in an ancient garbage pit. However, among the trash was also a mystifying amount of gold coins and jewelry.
“In the midst of the many sherds that were discovered in the big refuse pit was a large amount of usable artifacts, whose presence in the pit raises questions,” professor Oren Tal of Tel Aviv University said in a statement. “Among other things, more than four hundred coins were found which are mostly Byzantine, including one gold coin, as well as two hundred whole and intact Samaritan lamps (among them lamps that were never used), rings and gold jewelry.”
The items have been preliminarily dated between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., according to the IAA. However the area where they were found, Apollonia National Park, is believed to have been inhabited for much longer. In fact, in 2004, the park was named a World Monuments Fund Watch site because of its historical importance.