At least 63 Roman-era graves discovered in besieged Gaza Strip
At least 63 graves dating from the Roman era have been excavated in the besieged coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip, according to an official at the Hamas-run government.
Speaking to The New Arab, Hiyam al-Bitar, a researcher from the Hamas-run Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, said that the new graves were uncovered while the ministry's crew was continuing their excavation of an archaeological site discovered earlier this year during preparations for an Egyptian-funded housing project.
"The graves included bones and artefacts from one tomb dated back to the second century," she added, further pointing out that the excavating process was in collaboration with a team of French experts to learn more about the site.
"Now, the archaeological is blocked off from the public, but once we finish our operations, we will declare our final decision when it will be ready to be visited by the locals," she noted.
Gaza was considered a trade corridor between the countries and empires, and it is normal to uncover archaeological sites that belonged to various royal families of the past.
In April, the Hamas-run Tourism and Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of a 4,500-year-old statue of the goddess "Anat" from the Canaanite era.
The 22-centimetre-tall statue is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess Anat and is estimated to be dated to around 2,500 B.C.E., according to Jamal Abu Rida, Director-General of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage at the ministry.
The sculpture is made of limestone and is just a head wearing a snake for a crown, worn by the gods as a symbol of strength and invincibility.
The 2,000-year-old Roman Cemetery in Beit Lahia in the north of the coastal enclave was discovered by Gazan builders while they were preparing the area to construct an Egyptian-funded city in February.
In January, the ministry opened a reconstructed old Byzantine church in the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, turning it into a public museum after four years of work.
According to historians, the Byzantine church was established in the Gaza Strip around 1,700 years ago and it was the property of the royal family at that time.