Israeli reserve soldiers find 1,500-year-old Byzantine lamp near Gaza border

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Israeli reserve soldiers from the 282nd Artillery Regiment discovered a well-preserved, 1,500-year-old Byzantine-era oil lamp near the Gaza border during their recent call-up for the war on Hamas.

A small, well-preserved Byzantine oil lamp found near Gaza border.(Israel Antiquities Authority / Sarah Tal)
A small, well-preserved Byzantine oil lamp found near Gaza border.(Israel Antiquities Authority / Sarah Tal)

Netanel Melchior and Alon Segev stumbled upon the artifact in a staging area inside Israeli territory, according to local media reports. Intrigued by its round shape and mud-covered exterior, Melchior cleaned it and, realizing its significance, shared an image on social media.

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Recognizing the unique find, the soldiers decided to turn it over to experts, handing it to Sarah Tal, an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologist.

“During one of our wanderings in the field, I came across pottery lying upside down, and its round shape attracted me,” Melchior said. “It was covered in mud, I cleaned it and after I realised what it was about, I called the Antiquities Authority.”

The IAA confirmed the artifact as a “sandal candle” from the Byzantine period, likely dating back to the 5th or 6th century CE.

Under Israeli law, any man-made object predating 1700 must be surrendered to the IAA within 15 days. The IAA and IDF cooperate to preserve historical and archaeological findings, with IAA Director-General Eli Escusido expressing gratitude for the soldiers’ vigilance and civic responsibility.

“The war often exposes us to extraordinary situations, even on the archaeological front. The land of Israel, particularly this surrounding region, holds a rich history and ancient treasures,” said Eli Eskosido, director of the Antiquities Authority.

“In the event of finding an ancient relic, it is crucial to notify the inspectors so that researchers can gather as much information as possible about the site and its historical significance,” he emphasised.

(With inputs from agencies)

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