The massive storm that swept through Israel over the weekend caused a great deal of damage to archaeological sites all along the Mediterranean coast, but also uncovered a an impressive statue of a woman between 1650 and 1800 years old in Ashkelon.
The statue, a 1.2-meter high figure of a woman with her head missing, has been dated to Roman times and is thought to have stood erect in a bath house.
Roman statue discovered in Ashkelon
The statue was discovered when a cliff crumbled into the water at a sea-side archaeological dig in Ashkelon. Among the chunks of earth that broke off from the cliff were parts of a large building that apparently were once a part of a Roman bath house.
Sections of a colorful mosaic floor were also ruined. Many shards were washed away by the water.
Archaeologist Dr. Yigal Israel of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Ashkelon region explained, "It is a lovely white statue that is missing its head and part of a hand. It was apparently imported from Italy, Greece or Asia Minor, and may have represented the goddess Aphrodite."
"The woman depicted in the statue is wearing a toga and leaning on a square stone column," Israel continued. "Her clothing was chiseled meticulously – her toes are delicate, we see her sandals and her small emphasized bosom. Simply a stunningly beautiful statue."
The statue had fallen from a relatively high precipice measuring approximately ten meters high, but was surprisingly unharmed. Dr. Israel estimated that the statue's head and hand were missing even during Roman times.
"We rescued the statue from the sea waves lapping at it," Dr. Israel said. "It was spotted by a passerby, and with the generous help of Ashkelon city council, we raised it with a crane. We are transferring it to government warehouses in Beit Shemesh."
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