Yesterday, The Hamas-run ministry of tourism and antiquities in Gaza announced the discovery of ancient artifacts near the Egyptian border town of Rafah. 1,300 ancient silver coins, both large and small found at the archaeological dig. Archaeologists had also uncovered a black basalt grinder, a coin with a cross etched on it, and the remains of walls and arches believed to have been built in 320 BC. They also discovered a "mysterious" underground compartment with a blocked entrance that appeared to be a tomb, Agha said.
Photo: ancient silver coins recently discovered near the Egyptian border town of Rafah
The Palestinian Authority has been carrying out archaeological excavations since the 1990s, but this was the first major find to be announced by the Hamas-run government. The archaeological dig, still under way, is close to where a vast network of smuggling tunnels provides a vital economic lifeline amid strict Israeli and Egyptian closures imposed after the takeover. The News released by Mohammed al-Agha, tourism and antiquities ministerof the Palestinian National Authority.
According to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip there are 12,000 archaeological and cultural heritage sites, 60,000 traditional houses, 1,750 major sites of human settlement, and 500 sites which have been excavated to date, 60 of which are major sites. Gaza's main highway, the Salah al-Din road, is one of the oldest in the world, and has been traversed by the chariots of the armies of the Pharaohs and Alexander the Great, the cavalry of the Crusaders, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Having long been overlooked in archaeological research, the number of excavations in the Gaza Strip has multiplied since the establishment in 1995 of the Department of Antiquities in Gaza. Plans to build a national archaeological museum also promise to highlight the rich history of Gaza city, which has been described as, "one of the world's oldest living cities." Rapid urban development makes the need for archaeological research all the more urgent to protect the region's archaeological heritage. Population pressure in the tiny Gaza Strip is intense, which means that numerous potential archaeological sites may have been built over and lost. According to specialists, there is much more under ground and under the sea than what has been discovered to date.