311_Samaritan synagogue ruin.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)
An ongoing archeological excavation in northwestern Herzliya is furthering
studies on Samaritan life during the Byzantine period.
began in mid-June near Apollonia National Park in the hinterland of the
Apollonia-Arsuf region, in an area located between Kfar Shmaryahu and Rishpon.
It is being conducted ahead of expanding the city of Herzliya.
project includes 10 archeologists, and is being done by the Antiquities
Authority and Tel Aviv University.
It is being led by Prof. Oren
Tal, chairman of the university’s archeology department, and Moshe Ajami, the
authority’s Tel Aviv district archeologist.
The group is focusing on
excavating refuse pits, essentially the town dumps used by the Samaritan
community during the sixth and seventh centuries CE, Tal told The Jerusalem Post
Findings thus far in the main pit at the site include 400
Byzantine coins, 200 Samaritan lamps, an ancient ring and gold
Tal said many of these findings could be significant because
they included items that were discarded unused.
“Among these findings we
have many intact oil lamps.
Some of them are even still sealed,” he
“This is very fascinating...
You don’t expect them to be
found in dumps and refuse, because they need to be used and they need to be
sold,” he said.
“Our understanding is that there is some sort of probable
cultic aspect of intentionally discarding usable and intact vessels among the
Samaritan community that inhabited Apollonia in the late Byzantine
Tal said the coins included a significant number made of silver,
a few gold ones – both very valuable – and many made of bronze.
still they were discarded,” he said. “This is the question that we need to
answer in the future: Why?” Tal said that while these discoveries were
preliminary and more research would be done in the coming weeks, the findings
could point to key information regarding Samaritan daily life between 500 and
640 CE and regarding regional life.
Ajami said Wednesday that the
excavations have already confirmed a substantial Samaritan presence in the area,
which was not known before the project.
“We didn’t know that in this site
we had so many Samaritan people in this period,” he said. “It’s a huge
Ajami said the ring that was found had eight sides, each of
which contained the name of God written with the letters “JHVH” in
This ring, found at the dig in Herzliya, had the name of God written in Hebrew on each side. (Antiquities Authority)
This discovery could indicate a high level of religious
observance by those living in Apollonia during the Byzantine period, he
Tal said that once the Antiquities Authority cleared all findings
from the area, the land would be free for development.