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Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 12:28

Divers find trove of shipwrecked Roman treasure

By Associated Press in Caesarea, Israel
Divers find trove of shipwrecked Roman treasure

Rare bronze artifacts, part of a large ancient marine cargo of a merchant ship that sank during the Late Roman period 1,600 years ago seen during a presentation of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Caesarea, Israel on May 16. (AP Photo / Dan Balilty)

A chance discovery by two divers uncovered Israel's biggest find of underwater Roman-era artifacts in three decades, archaeologists said on Monday as the priceless objects were showcased for the first time.

The treasures were found last month by divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Raanan when they came across an ancient shipwreck near the port of Caesarea.

Standing next to his diving buddy, Raanan recounted the moment the pair realized they had discovered something special.

Divers find trove of shipwrecked Roman treasure

Israeli archeologists say two divers have made the country's biggest discovery of Roman-era artifacts in three decades. (AP Photo / Dan Balilty)

"It took us a couple of seconds to understand what was going on," Raanan recalled. He said they left the first sculpture on the seabed when they found it, but then when they discovered a second, they realized it was something special and brought it to the surface. They later searched the area and uncovered more ancient artifacts.

"It was amazing. I dive here every other weekend and I never found anything like that ever," he said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority sent its divers to investigate and recover the precious Roman-era cargo, which includes bronze statues, lamps, jars, animal-shaped objects, anchors and thousands of coins with images of Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius.

Some of the objects date to the fourth century, while others are from the first and second centuries, said Jacob Sharvit, director of marine archaeology at the IAA.

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