A recent recovery of a Roman-era sarcophagus has been achieved by local Israeli authorities. This occurred after construction workers attempted to conceal the discovery after stumbling across it at a construction site. The retrieval of the sarcophagus was carried out by Israel’s Antiquities Authorities.
The 1800 year old coffin weighs an enormous two tons and measures a length of 2.5 metres. The Israeli Antiquities Authorities describes this as one of the most important and beautiful sarcophagus’s ever discovered in the country. The sarcophagus is sculpted on all sides and also has a life-sized carving of a person on the lid.
The sarcophagus was recovered in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon during an overnight operation between Tuesday and Wednesday. Israeli Antiquities Authorities noticed the finely decorated coffin was severely damaged when building contractors improperly removed it from the ground.
“They decided to hide it, pulled it out of the ground with a tractor while aggressively damaging it,” the Israeli Antiquities Authorities wrote in a statement.
The sarcophagus was then hidden beneath a stack of sheet metal and boards.
“The contractors poured a concrete floor in the lot so as to conceal any evidence of the existence of the antiquities site,” the Israeli Antiquities Authorities said.
According to Amir Ganor, head of the Inspection Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority, building permission was given on condition that any discovery of antiquities in the area would be reported.
"In this case, the building contractors chose to hide the rare artefact and their action has caused painful damage to history. Legal proceedings will now be taken against those involved, thereby leading to a delay in construction and related expenditures," Ganor said in a statement.
According to archaeologist Gaby Mazor, the sarcophagus was likely made for a wealthy Roman family.
“Such sarcophagi were usually placed in or next to a family mausoleum. The high level of decoration attested to the family’s affluence, which judging by the depicted motifs was probably not Jewish,” Mazor said.