Extremely Unusual Sarcophagus Found in Israel

Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

Contractors digging at  a construction site in Ashkalon uncovered, then seriously damaged and tried to hide, a unique cultural treasure: a carved two-ton sarcophagus dating to about the second century. After badly scarring the rare item while removing it, they hid it under junk and then poured concrete over the site where it was found.

A life-size figure is carved on the lid of the sarcophagus, and there are typically Roman carvings (including a bull’s head, Medusa with snake hair, and cupids) around the sides as well. This is very, very unusual for a burial in Israel. Read my series on Burial Customs to see more common techniques. 

The Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and local police were tipped off about the find and investigated, taking a number of workers into custody.