Stav Meir, a resident of Caesarea, went out a week ago to look for mushrooms after heavy winter rains, but found something far more exciting.
While searching for mushrooms with is father and brothers in Caesarea, 13-year-old Stav Meir saw a stone slab protruding from the ground. He called his father and showed him the intriguing object which had an inscription in Greek.
“I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” says Stav, a seventh-grader who studied archaeology in school as part of a project directed by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
Excited, Stav reported his discovery to the IAA, and an archaeologist came to collect it for research.
Archaeologist Dr. Peter Gendelman, a Caesarea researcher at the IAA, said that the slab was part of a tomb, a marble slab with an inscription engraved in Greek that started with a cross.
The slab apparently indicated the grave’s location in the cemetery and the identity of the deceased, Anastasius, or Anastasia.
Gendelman noted that the quality of tombstone illustrates the extraordinary wealth of Caesarea’s rich some 1,500 years ago.
“Already, in ancient times, Caesarea was a center of attraction for a wealthy population. The quality of the slab indicates the wealthy status of the person entombed, as well as the customs and beliefs of inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period,” he said.
This slab joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea.
The IAA added that during the Byzantine period, Caesarea’s wealthy residents built magnificent mansions in the city’s suburbs. These buildings gave their owners quality of life, and they enjoyed the rural character of the area as well as the proximity to the heart of the city.
Sections of five magnificent mansions have been discovered, each covering a large area. The best known is the Bird Mosaic mansion, which is estimated to cover a dunam and a half. Most of the floors in the sections of the complex that have been excavated were colored mosaics.
Many significant archeological discoveries in Israel were discovered by chance during construction projects or by hikers.
Stav was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for being an upstanding citizen of Israel.
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