Washington, September 15 (ANI): An ancient treasure comprising three figurines of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which was buried underground for over 1,500 years, was uncovered during excavations at Sussita in Israel, carried out by researchers of the University of Haifa.
The discovery was made during the tenth season of excavations that are carried out by researchers of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, headed by Prof. Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg.
"It is possible that during the fourth century A.D., when Christianity was gradually becoming the governing religion in the Roman Empire, there were still a number of inhabitants in Sussita who remained loyal to the goddess of love and therefore wished to hide and preserve these items," suggested Prof. Segal.
The hidden figurines were discovered when the researchers exposed a shop in the southeastern corner of the forum district of Sussita, which is the central area of the Roman city that was built in the second century B.C., existed through the Roman and Byzantine periods and destroyed in the great earthquake of 749 A.D.
According to the researchers, it was clear that the followers had wished to hide the figurines, as they were found complete.
The clay pieces are 23 cm tall and represent the common model of the goddess of love known to the experts as Venus pudica, "the modest Venus."
This name was given to the form due to its upright stature and the figure's covering her private parts with the palm of her hand perhaps another reason for concealing them from the new religion that presided over the empire.
Another fascinating finding was an odeion - a small, roofed theater-like structure, the first of its kind to be exposed in Israel.
According to the researchers, structures such as these were quite common in the Roman era and were intended for poetry-reading performances and musical recitals for an elect audience.
While the average theater of those times had some 4,000 seats, the odeion had no more than 600 sitting places.
The excavation is still in its early stages, but the researchers have already been able to expose the entire perimeter of the odeion, which forms a rectangular area, at one end of which is a semi-circle.
Also found in the excavations was a basilica, a roofed structure that would have been used as a substitute location for public gatherings in rainy weather.
This is the second basilica to be exposed in Israel, the first being the Roman basilica of Samaria. (ANI)