1,500-year-old Greek inscription uncovered by 13-year-old in Caesarea

"I immediately recognized that it was something ancient," the seventh-grader from Caesarea said.

Stav Meir with his find.  (photo credit: CARM SAID / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)
Stav Meir with his find.
Last week, after rain that began battering the country this month, 13-year-old Stav Meir went searching for mushrooms with his father, siblings and cousins. He ended up uncovering something much more unexpected: a 1,500-year-old Greek inscription dating back to the Byzantine period.
“I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” the seventh-grader from Caesarea said, according to an IAA statement. “I studied archaeology in school together with the Israel Antiquities Authority, therefore I can easily identify antiquities when I see them.”
The white slab protruding from the ground uncovered by the boy turned out to be part of a burial inscription, Peter Gendelman, an IAA researcher in Caesarea, said in the press release. The inscription indicates the name of the deceased and the location of the grave within the cemetery, he said.
“The grave of.... and of Anastasius, or Anastasia…,” the inscription read, the IAA said.
“Already, in ancient times, Caesarea was a center of attraction for a wealthy population,” Gendelman said. “The quality of the slab discovered by Stav indicates the wealthy status of the person entombed, as well as the customs and beliefs of inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period. This inscription joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea.”
Stav is among the thousands of Israeli youths who each year take part in educational programs organized by the IAA.
“We have five IAA educational centers working with schools and children all over the country,” Einat Kashi, who is responsible for the center located in Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Each center employs coordinators and tour guides to work with the youths,” she said.
For more than 20 years, the IAA has organized hundreds of programs with Israeli schools from all sectors, from kindergarten to high school, Kashi said. The IAA representatives visit the schools to teach archaeology and the history of the country, and students go on tours and excavations. Each participant has between 12 and 20 meetings with IAA officials.
“They see how our researchers work and receive tasks so that they can help,” she said. “Many high-school students take part in a weeklong program in a specific excavation, operating side by side with our archaeologists. Many schools are eager to participate in the initiative also, because at the end of the program, the students receive a scholarship to fund their school trip to Poland.”
The IAA also lets teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 work at the excavations as a summer job, Kashi said.
“They receive a salary, and we think it’s a great learning opportunity,” she said.
As happened in Stav’s case, having citizens aware of the extraordinary opportunities in a country with such a rich history can be crucial to advance research and discoveries.
“The country’s recent rainstorms have uncovered archaeological finds buried in the ground,” IAA Haifa district archaeologist Karem Said said in the IAA statement. “The IAA is pleased and proud with Stav’s good citizenship and the actual application of the knowledge he has acquired with us in the classroom and in the field. The finding of this inscription enriches archaeological knowledge and our understanding of ancient Caesarea.”
“We awarded Stav a Certificate of Appreciation for his good citizenship, and we will come to his class for a special lesson addressing the discovery he made,” he said. “We urge citizens to be our partners in preserving the treasures of the land. Let us know if you discover archaeological finds that have surfaced in the rain.”