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Galilee citizen gives rare finds to IAA National Treasures Department

An electrician from the village of Arrabe in the lower Galilee is to be awarded a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship for turning over rare finds to the National Treasures Department of the Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Ahmad Nasser Yassin, an Israeli-Arab, was walking near his village on his way to do an electrical repair when something unusual caught his eye, so he stopped to see what it was. Upon examining the hunk of rock, it crumbled and he saw, “some dishes with an antique look.”  Worried that they might get damaged sitting out in the open, he took them home and called the IAA.

Nir Distelfeld, of the IAA’s Theft Prevention Unit in the northern region, arrived at Yassin’s home to ascertain the nature of the find. Yassin right away turned the finds over to him.

Distelfeld called the items “exciting” and said that apparently they were exposed due to an old knock from machinery in the antique funeral cave that he also found there.

He estimates that the items are from the Middle Bronze Age about 4500 years ago, and that they were probably buried to accompany the deceased in the world to come, as was characteristic of funeral practices of this period.

The items included storage vessels, a pouring vessel and a copper dagger blade. The rounded dishes are typical of northern ceramics of the era. It is likely that the blade had been attached to a wooden handle with nails.

Distelfeld commended Yassin for his responsible conduct and for showing good citizenship of the highest level from the start, earning him recognition from the IAA. He said Yassin told him that others had said he was a sucker for handing over the antiquities to the state, but that he made the choice to follow the proper path that would be expected from any law-abiding citizen. Yassin knew it wasn’t his personal property, but that it was part of the public heritage and that it needed to go to trusted professionals who handle antiquities.

According to the IAA official, “…[in] the burial cave that Ahmad accidentally found, we discovered an [archaeological] period that was unknown in the research done for this area.” By making the responsible choice, he “contributed to the archeological puzzle of the Land of Israel.”

It was also suggested by Distelfeld that, should the head of the regional council be interested, perhaps an archeological display of the finds could be put up in Arrabe, so that everyone could learn the village’s local history.

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