Israeli archaeologists announced on Sunday the discovery of a burial cave from the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, filled with dozens of vessels and bronze objects.
The cave was revealed on a beach on Tuesday when a mechanical digger working in Palmahim National Park hit its roof, with archaeologists using a ladder to descend into the spacious, man-made square cave.
In a video released by the Israel Antiquities Authority, amazed archaeologists shine a light on dozens of vessels in various shapes and sizes, dating from the reign of the ancient Egyptian king who died in 1213 BC.
In a Facebook post, the authority said the burial cave “looks like an Indiana Jones movie set.”
“Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority mobilized to the site and descended a staircase into the stunning site that appeared to be frozen in time,” the authority said in a statement.
Bowls — some of them painted red, others with bones — chalices, cooking vessels, storage jars, lamps, and bronze arrowheads or spears could be seen in the cave.
The objects were burial offerings to accompany the deceased on their final journey to the afterlife, found untouched since they were placed there some 3,300 years ago.
At least one relatively intact skeleton was also found in two rectangular plots in the corner of the cave.
“The cave can provide a complete picture of Late Bronze Age burial customs,” said Eli Yannai, IAA’s Bronze Age expert.
It’s an “extremely rare … once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” Yannai said, pointing to the cave’s extra treasure that remained sealed until its recent revelation.
The finds date to the reign of Ramses II, who controlled Canaan, an area that roughly included modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The origins of the vessels — Cyprus, Lebanon, northern Syria, Gaza and Jaffa — are testimony to the “vibrant commercial activity that took place along the coast,” Yannai said in an IAA statement.
Another IAA archaeologist, David Gelman, theorized the identity of the skeletons in the cave, located on a popular beach today in central Israel.
“The fact that these people were buried with weapons, including whole arrows, indicates that these people may have been warriors, perhaps guards on ships — which may be why they were able to acquire ships from around the region, ” he said.
Regardless of who the cave dwellers were, the find was “incredible,” Gelman said.
“Burial caves are rare as they are and to find one that hasn’t been touched since it was first used 3,300 years ago is something you rarely ever find,” he said.
“It feels like something out of an Indiana Jones movie: you just walk into the grounds and everything is just there as it was originally — intact pottery, weapons, bronze vessels, burials just as they were.”
The cave has been resealed and is being guarded while a plan is drawn up to excavate it, the IAA said.
He noted that “a few objects” had been looted from it in the short time between its discovery and its closure.
The discovery marks the latest in a series of recent archaeological finds in Israel.
Last month, scientists discovered onein the southern desert of Israel, just two months after a rare was revealed in the same area.
Also in August, archaeologists announced that they had recently discovered theof a prehistoric pachyderm near a kibbutz in southern Israel.
Meanwhile, the recent discovery of a– uncovered just half a mile from the Israeli border – has excited archaeologists. But it also calls for better protection of Gaza’s antiquities, a fragile collection of sites threatened by a lack of awareness and resources as well as constant danger .
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