Pair of 1,800-year-old sarcophagi discovered in central Israel

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JERUSALEM, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — Two 1,800-year-old sarcophagi were discovered at the Safari Zoological Center in central Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Safari park said Thursday.

The two unique ancient stone coffins were discovered during the construction of a new facility of veterinary services for birds and mammals.

According to IAA archaeologists, the sarcophagi date from the Roman period.

They are ornamented with symbolic discs, to protect and accompany the soul on its journey to the afterlife, and flower garlands, often used to decorate sarcophagi in the Hellenistic period as well.

Between the garlands are oval blanks, which the archaeologists believe were originally intended to be filled with a customary grape-cluster motif, but for some unknown reason the work remained unfinished.

The sarcophagi are locally-produced imitations of the prestigious ones made of Proconnesian marble from the Turkish island of Marmara.

According to the stones and their ornate decoration, the sarcophagi were intended for people of a high status, the IAA noted.

Found together, the two sarcophagi bear identical ornamentation and they may have been made for a wife and husband, or for members of the same family. Enditem

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