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A Marble Hoard Exposed in an Archaeological Excavation in Akko

8 November, 20098 November, 2009 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

Archaeological discovery in the Holy Land


In an excavation that was recently conducted c. 100 meters north of the Old City wall of Akko, a unique find, according to Dr. Edna Stern, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority was discovered from the Crusader period (the thirteenth century CE) - a hoard of 350 marble items that were collected from buildings that had been destroyed.

The hoard was found within the framework of an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority before the Akko Municipality began building a new structure to house classrooms in the Hilmi Shafi Educational Campus.

This find is the likes of which have never been discovered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Crusader period (the capital of which was Akko).

During the archaeological excavations the Israeli Antiques Authority came upon a cellar that was sealed by collapse comprised of building stones and charred beams. Beneath the cellar floor a hoard of c. 350 marble items and colored stones was discovered, including two broken marble tombstones with Latin inscriptions (one belonging to a person by the name of Maratinus), flat marble slabs and marble tiles of various sizes and colors, etc.


Some more extraordinary items were found, such as a large stone cross and a large fragment of porphyry (a rare precious purple stone, which has been the color of royalty from Roman times). The quality of the marble is excellent and it was undoubtedly imported from abroad."

This discover confirm that at that time they used to integrate ancient architectural items from the Roman and Byzantine periods in their construction. And just like today, people at that time also yearned for the classic and the exotic.   According to Dr. Edna Stern, it is known from written sources that the residents of AKKO bought and sold such stones, which were exceptionally valuable, to be reused in buildings. The owner of the hoard,  was either a merchant or collected the stones for his own construction, and was aware of impending danger and therefore buried the valuable stones until such time as the tension abated.

However, the cache of stones was not sold in the end. According to Stern, "We can reasonably assume that the collapse that was found above the hoard is evidence of the building's destruction in 1291 CE, when Crusader Akko was conquered by the Mamluks and was completely devastated".

The marble hoard was removed from the field and transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority for further study.




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