The decorative handle of a Byzantine candle holder that had been uncovered by recent rains was discovered last Shabbat in the fields of Tzur Yitzchak in central Israel by a family on a walk.
The family was walking along when they noticed a small clay face in the ground that appeared to be looking up at them, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.
The father, Doron, contacted the IAA and archaeologist Issy Kornfeld arrived after Shabbat to collect the find. Dr. Itamar Taxel, the head of the ceramic specialties branch at the IAA, determined that the family had found a decorative handle of a candle holder from the 6th or 7th century CE.
“Although it is not a rare find,” explained Kornfeld, “the item certainly is lovely. The clay lanterns were used for lighting, and are a typical find for those periods. However, not every lantern had a handle, and certainly not a[n intricately] designed one. The candle holder this belonged to was used for the function of light, but also as an ornamental object.”
Eli Escusido, head of the IAA, thanked the Lavi family and called upon members of the public to be especially vigilant.
“We thank the Lavi family, who demonstrated good citizenship and handed over the beautiful item to the state treasury,” Escusido said. “The rains of storm ‘Barbara’…brought ancient findings to the surface. We call on the public to be vigilant, and if they come across an ancient artifact to leave it where it is and call the IAA to come get it. The exact context in which the item is found provides valuable information for research.”