An ordinary morning run recently took an extraordinary turn for lifeguard Meir Amsik when he discovered a Crusader-era oil lamp amid beach-side rubble.
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While running on the beach in the southern city of Ashkelon, Amsik, an Israel Nature and Parks Authority lifeguard, noticed that part of a nearby cliff disintegrated to the ground. "I went over there, and saw that intriguing candle lying there in its entirety. I thought it might be an ancient artifact, so I picked it up," he recalls.
Experts at the Israel Antiquities Authority, to which Amsik brought in the oil lamp, confirmed that it is indeed ancient, dating back to the beginning of the 12th century C.E., the Crusader era in Israel.
"The candle represents part of the cultural richness of ancient Ashkelon, which was a city of commerce. There was a port in Ashkelon that imported goods from the sea, and goods that were manufactured all across the southern part of the land of Israel were also exported from there," says IAA archaeologist Sa'ar Ganor.
Amsik notes that "it's very exciting to discover such a finding. You just feel part of history. It fills you up with a sense of appreciation to what was here before. It feels like being a link in a chain."
The authority's Guy Fitoussi notes that "the Israel Nature and Parks Authority lifeguards, and lifeguards in general, are our eyes on the beach. They don’t only save people, but also save antiquities."
"These findings can be very important for research and for the historical knowledge of us all. Happily, more and more people are reporting the findings of antiques," he said.