Man Stumbles Upon Rare 5,000-Year-Old Bronze Age Jug in Cave

An American-Israeli living in Jerusalem discovered a fully intact, clay jug from the Early Bronze Age that is thought to be around 5,000 years old.

Roddy Brown, 53, who works as a tour guide, made the discovery in the West Bank's Qumran region near the Dead Sea after he and his friend climbed into a cave during a hike, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA.)

This was not the first time Brown had visited this cave—known as Cave 53—however.

The tourist had previously participated in an archaeological dig at the cave five years ago led by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Liberty University in Virginia.

This dig had revealed fascinating findings, including shards of jars and bowls, dates and olive seeds, and a piece of an ancient scroll.

Archaeologists were "surprised" by these findings in 2017, considering that a previous excavation had taken place at the same cave around 30 years ago, the IAA said.

The caves in the Qumran area are best known for being the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls—a set of significant ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts—were hidden.

After Brown and his friends uncovered the intact jug, they photographed the artifact, without touching it, and contacted the IAA.

According to IAA officials, the pottery vessel is among the most complete from its period.

"It's amazing. Only about two years ago, our archaeologists surveyed the cave as part of a survey of the Judean Desert caves, which has been conducted continuously for the past five years and was intended to document and locate all ancient finds in the desert caves," Amir Ganor, director of the IAA's robbery prevention unit, said in a statement.

"In a few caves, pottery shards were found, providing evidence of the Early Bronze Age. This is perhaps the first complete vessel we have found from this period in the caves in the Judean Desert."

A jug found in the Qumran Caves
The ancient clay jug that was found in Cave 53 by an American tourist. Israel Antiquities Authority

A spokesperson for the IAA told Newsweek that the jug was "hidden" at the time of the previous survey, hence why it was not spotted.

"It seems that as a result of a collapse of an earth section at the entrance to the cave, the vessel was exposed, and rolled to the ground," the spokesperson, Yoli Schwartz, said.

Ganor said it was "good" that the person who came across the artifact was Brown because he had previously participated in an excavation at the cave and was aware of the importance of such a find.

"We call on citizens who discover artifacts to leave them in place and call us immediately so that we can maximize the archaeological information from the find," Ganor said.

Archaeologists subsequently removed the jug from the cave and it will be analyzed scientifically.

Earlier this month, Israeli authorities seized hundreds of ancient artifacts, including "magic" bowls decorated with "spells," from a property in Jerusalem.

The raid was conducted by the IAA and police at an apartment in the ultra-orthodox Ramat Shlomo neighborhood over suspicions of illegal antiquities trading.

Correction 04/01/22, 10:11 a.m. ET: This article was updated to correct the name of the man who found the jug and make it clear that he was not a tourist.

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