Friday, March 12, 2004

Fire destroys antiquities warehouse in Beit Shean (Jerusalem Post)

A treasure trove of artifacts excavated from the ancient site of Beit She'an has been destroyed in a blaze � apparently started deliberately � at an old building on the edge of the national park that had been used to store secondary finds.

The fire in the building, itself dating back to the eighth century CE, began on Wednesday and caused parts of the roof and walls to collapse, crushing many shards of pottery, marble, glassware, ceramics and other remains from various periods of history.


"What we had stored in the building were all the other finds excavated over the years since the project began in 1986. These were primarily from the Hellenistic period [circa 250 BCE] until the ancient city of Beit She'an was destroyed in an earthquake in 749 CE," said [excavations director Gaby] Mazor.

"These thousands upon thousands of finds formed the basis for our scientific research � everything we have written and are writing about the site since excavations began. Now all these discoveries are gone.

"The building has been gutted by fire and all the finds are destroyed. To stand there and see all this cultural destruction is just heartbreaking.



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