In a true only-in-Israel moment, a boy who went foraging for mushrooms following recent rains stumbled upon an archaeological artifact that was brought to the surface by the downpour.

Thirteen-year-old Stav Meir from Caesarea was hunting for wild mushrooms with family members when he noticed a stone slab with a Greek inscription protruding out of the ground.

“I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” the seventh-grader said. “I studied archaeology in school with the Israel Antiquities Authority, so I can easily identify antiquities when I see them.”

Seventh-grader Stav Meir holds up his antique find. Photo courtesy of Karem Said/Israel Antiquities Authority

Stav reported his finding to the IAA, which was able to identify the slab as Byzantine.

“This is a burial inscription – a marble slab with an inscription engraved in Greek and started with a cross. The slab, which apparently indicated the grave’s location in the cemetery and the identity of the deceased, reads: ‘The grave of … and of Anastasius, or Anastasia …” said Peter Gendelman, a Caesarea researcher at the IAA.

“Already in ancient times, Caesarea was a center of attraction for a wealthy population. The quality of the slab discovered by Stav indicates the wealthy status of the person entombed, as well as the customs and beliefs of inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period. This inscription joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea,” he added.

The IAA awarded Stav with a certificate of appreciation and we will come to his class for a special lesson addressing the discovery he made.

“The IAA is pleased and proud with Stav’s good citizenship, and the actual application of the knowledge he has acquired with us in the classroom and in the field. The finding of this inscription enriches archeological knowledge and our understanding of ancient Caesarea,” said IAA Haifa district archaeologist Karem Said.

“We urge citizens to be our partners in preserving the treasures of the land. Let us know if you discover archeological finds that have surfaced in the rain,” he added.