Israeli archaeologists reveal cache of guns Arabs used against British

The weapons cache, which included the remains of around 100 guns, will be presented at a special conference for police officers and archaeologists.

 Bullets that were among the finds in the Arab militia weapons cache found in Jaffa. (photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)
Bullets that were among the finds in the Arab militia weapons cache found in Jaffa.
(photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

A long-lost cache of weapons was discovered in Jaffa, which was originally meant to be used by local Arabs against the British, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.

The weapons cache, which included the remains of around 100 guns, will be presented Thursday at a special conference for police officers and archaeologists and highlights the difficult battle the police of the British Mandate era waged against the illegal arms trade and armed Arab militia groups.

Jaffa Arab guns: Where were they found, what were they for?

The weapons cache was discovered at an old and infamous police station and detention center in Jaffa, located near the Jaffa clock tower square.

This was an area of major importance for both the British and the Ottomans, and thus had a very high police and military presence over the years.

 Examples of the guns found in the Arab weapons cache in Jaffa. (credit: Israel Antiquities Authority) Examples of the guns found in the Arab weapons cache in Jaffa. (credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Consequently, it's also been home to a number of interesting archaeological discoveries.

This includes the aforementioned weapons cache of around 100 different guns, ranging from World War I military rifles to double-barreled hunting guns. 

First World War-era bullets, artillery shells and military equipment were also found.

The illegal weapons were bought by the Arab militias from merchants who themselves sourced them from a number of suppliers, such as Bedouin tribes that would scavenge them off of battlefields.

Oddly enough, some of these weapons seemed to have been broken on purpose, according to IAA researchers Alexander Glick and Dr. Yoav Arbel, who also speculated that they were seized by police from local Arab militias. 

There is also considerable interest in what kind of guns were included, such as manufacturer information, country and year of origin and so on, as it lends valuable data about the international illegal arms trade of the era.

This is why the cache will be presented at the joint police-archaeologist conference, which itself is meant to highlight the similarities in policework like forensic science to the techniques employed by archaeologists.