The two divers knew they discovered something unique on the Mediterranean Sea in the shallow waters of the ancient Roman port of Caesarea.
What they didn’t understand was that they found a 1600-year-old shipwreck whose precious cargo was still in the remains of the deteriorating wooden hold. An underwater survey has revealed the extent of the find.
Divers discovered a bronze lamp depicting the ancient Roman sun god Sol, a moon-goddess Luna statue, jar fragments and more.
One of the most significant finds was two metallic lumps weighing approximately 40 pounds (18 kilograms) and made up of thousands of ancient coins, fused together in the shape of the pottery vessel in which they were held.
The coins bear the image of Emperor Constantine, who ruled the Roman Empire in the 4th century, and of his rival, Licinius, who governed the eastern Roman Empire for a time.
The location of the shipwreck holds the key to part of the story, says Jacob Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority.