Israelis exploring cave discover treasure from time of Alexander the Great

A statue of the head of Alexander the Great. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( An Israeli father, his son, and a friend discovered a rare trove of artifacts from the time of Alexander the Great inside a stalactite cave in Israel’s Galilee region. The treasure includes coins and jewelry from that period.

Reuven Zakai, his 21-year-old son Hen, and their friend Lior Halony, all members of the Israeli Caving Club, were exploring the cave several weeks ago when Hen first discovered two ancient coins, alongside some jewelry. The group then notified authorities who arrived and unearthed the treasure, which also included 6,000-year-old pottery.

"The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander's heirs following his death,” the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement.

“Presumably, the cache was hidden in the hope of better days, but today we know that whoever buried the treasure never returned to collect it," said the IAA.

Israeli law says that all discovered antiquities must be reported, and violators could face up to five years in prison.

"[The group that discovered the treasure] understood the importance of the archaeological discovery and exhibited exemplary civic behavior by immediately bringing these impressive archaeological finds to the attention of the IAA," said Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.

Posted on March 10, 2015 .