Roman-era Statue Unearthed After Massive Gales Batter Israeli Coast

Published: December 15th 2010
in News » Israel

Statue unearthed in Ashkelon

A white marble statue of a woman was unearthed after a cliff collapsed during winter gale storms at the ancient city of Ashkelon. The collapse also partially destroyed a bath house and mosaics that had been in the cliff for many centuries.


The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) reported on Tuesday, that the figure, measuring 4ft (1.2m) tall and approximately 440 lbs (200kg) is believed to be between 1800-2000 years old. Archaeologist Dr. Yigal Israel of IAA 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." She stated that the statue would eventually be put on display.


Unfortunately, the 100 mph winds, torrential rains, and 10 m waves that battered the coast caused serious damage to other archeological sites, such as the Roman-era port of Caesarea.


The storm was one of the strongest that Israel has experienced in several years.

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