A Roman-era bronze figurine of a woman and an intact ceramic pitcher more than a meter high were among dozens of antiquities that Haifa law-enforcement authorities discovered Monday while raiding the home of a man suspected of planning to sell the goods.
The finds - which also include three anchors from ancient ships, pottery, ancient coins, and glass and bronze tools - were allegedly recovered during illegal dives to undersea archaeological sites in the north.
The suspect has confessed to retrieving the antiquities, and the prosecution is set to decide in the next few days whether to indict him.
Inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority unit for the prevention of antiquities theft, who conducted the raid with the assistance of the Haifa police, said they were particularly surprised to find the intact Amphora pitcher, which has two handles and a pointed base. They said it was in the hold of a ship that apparently sank in the Mediterranean in antiquity.
One of the handles bears the imprint of a seal with a Greek inscription that is expected to tell archaeologists where the cargo was shipped from, what kind of goods were sent, and most important, when they were sent.
Amir Ganor, the director of the antiquities theft prevention unit, said removing antiquities from sunken ships is illegal and hampers archaeological research.
"If you dive and accidentally discover antiquities on the sea floor, do not remove the antiquities from the sea," Ganor said. "Try to mark the location and try to get exact coordinates, and immediately report it to the Antiquities Authority. Diving and removing antiquities from sunken ships on the sea floor sabotages archaeological research and erases important historical evidence. In addition, it is illegal."