Yulia Karra
March 28

A teenager from a school in central Israel recently discovered a 1,600-year-old oil lamp during an annual field trip in the south, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed earlier this week.

Yonatan Frankel, 16, from the Tamar Waldorf School in Hod HaSharon, found the lamp along the Scorpions Pass, a twisted section of Route 227 in Mezad Zafir, south of the Dead Sea. 

Yonatan Frankel and the lamp he found. Photo by Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority
Yonatan Frankel and the lamp he found. Photo by Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority

A similar oil lamp was discovered at the same location 90 years ago by famous archeologist Nelson Glueck.

The lamp discovered 90 years ago by archeologist Nelson Glueck. Photo by Nelson Glueck, 1934-1935. Explorations in Eastern Palestine, II. (AASOR 15). P. 116, fig. 42.
The lamp discovered 90 years ago by archeologist Nelson Glueck. Photo by Nelson Glueck, 1934-1935. Explorations in Eastern Palestine, II. (AASOR 15). P. 116, fig. 42.

Yonatan initially picked up the item believing it was a rock. “It was full of dirt. I shook it off, and suddenly I saw a design. Then, I understood that this was a manmade object and not just a stone,” he said.

The lamp is believed to have been produced in Petra, Jordan, in the fourth to fifth centuries CE.  

IAA senior researcher Tali Erickson-Gini said the area of Makteshim Ein Yahav, one of the nature reserves Route 227 passes through, was part of a trade route during that time. 

Hikers along Scorpions Pass. Photo by Neer Lect-Ben Ami/Israel Antiquities Authority
Hikers along Scorpions Pass. Photo by Neer Lect-Ben Ami/Israel Antiquities Authority

“In order to secure the shipments of copper, and possibly even gold from the mines, a series of forts were built between the head of the Scorpions Pass and Mezad Zafir. It is easy to imagine the lamp lighting up the darkness in the lonely, isolated fort manned by Roman soldiers,” she said.

Yonatan, received a certificate of merit for his discovery and for good citizenship.

Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Eli Escusido said: “Every object that is turned over to us is kept by the National Treasures department, and each object can shed significant light about our past.”

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