American tourist stumbles upon rare 5,000-year-old Bronze Age jar in cave

An American tourist has discovered a fully intact Early Bronze Age clay jar in the West Bank, believed to be around 5,000 years old.

Robbie Brown, 53, made the discovery in the Qumran region near the Dead Sea after he and friends climbed into a cave about 330 feet above a road during a hike, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA ).

However, this wasn’t Brown’s first time visiting this cave — known as Cave 53.

The tourist had participated in an archaeological dig at the cave five years ago led by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Liberty in Virginia.

This excavation had unearthed fascinating finds, including shards of jars and bowls, dates and olive pits, and a piece of an ancient scroll.

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Archaeologists were “surprised” by these finds in 2017, considering a previous excavation had taken place in the same cave some 30 years ago, the IAA said.

The caves in the Qumran area are best known for being the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls – a number of important ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts – were hidden.

After uncovering the intact pitcher, Brown and his friends photographed the artifact without touching it and contacted the IAA.

According to IAA officials, the pottery vessel is among the most complete of its time.

“It is amazing. Just about two years ago, our archaeologists surveyed the cave as part of a survey of the caves of the Judean Desert, which has been ongoing for the past five years and was designed to document and locate all ancient finds in the desert caves,” said Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit , in a statement.

“Shards of pottery have been found in some caves that provide evidence of the early Bronze Age. This is perhaps the first complete vessel we have found in the caves of the Judean Desert from this period.”

The old clay jar found in Cave 53 by an American tourist.
Israel Antiquities Authority

That said a spokesman for the IAA news week that the pitcher was “hidden” at the time of the previous survey, which is why it was not discovered.

“It appears that the ship was uncovered and rolled to the ground as a result of a collapse of a section of earth at the entrance of the cave,” spokesman Yoli Schwartz said.

Ganor said it was “good” that the person who came across the artifact was Brown because he had previously participated in an excavation at the cave and was aware of the importance of such a find.

“We urge citizens who discover artifacts to leave them where they are and call us immediately so we can maximize the archaeological information from the find,” Ganor said.

Archaeologists then removed the jar from the cave and analyzed it scientifically.

Earlier this month, Israeli authorities seized hundreds of ancient artifacts, including “magic” bowls decorated with “spells,” at a property in Jerusalem.

The raid was carried out by the ILO and police at an apartment in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo on suspicion of illegal antique dealing.

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