Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a 1,400 year-old ceramic oil lamp with the help of an unlikely aide – a porcupine.

Last week, during a routine patrol at the Horbat Siv ancient ruins – a Roman-Byzantine site near Emek Hefer in central Israel, anti-antiquities theft inspectors found the oil lamp on top of a pile of dirt that a porcupine had unearthed while digging a burrow.

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Porcupine’s live in underground burrows that can stretch to as long as 15 meters.

Ira Horovitz from the anti-antiquities theft unit of the IAA said that “the porcupine is an excellent archaeologist, a relentless digger... It often happens that porcupines dig their burrows at the site of archaeological digs... he skillfully throws the dirt aside, and with it whatever archaeological findings are in his path.”

IAA researchers inspected the ceramic piece and the other findings that the porcupine uncovered, realizing that the findings provided information on the time frame in which people inhabited the ancient site.

“The IAA calls on all porcupines to avoid digging burrows at archeological sites and warns that digging at an archeological site without a license is a criminal offense,” the Antiquities Authority jested.

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