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Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered an archaeological treasure trove in an ancient garbage dump.

The dig, funded by the Israel Lands Administration, is part of the TAU-run Apollonia-Arsuf excavation project just north of Tel Aviv. The researchers are particularly interested in a number of Byzantine refuse pits on the site. One large pit, about 100 feet wide, was found to contain 400 Byzantine coins, 200 Samaritan lamps, and a variety of gold jewelry.

"In the midst of the many sherds [ancient fragments] in the big refuse pit was a large amount of usable artifacts, whose presence in the pit raises questions," Prof. Oren Tal, the chairman of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, said. Of note is an octagonal ring with excerpts from the Samaritan Pentateuch, including the words "Adonai is his name" and "One God, and so on" engraved in Samaritan around the band.

"Approximately a dozen Samaritan rings have been published so far in scientific literature, and this ring constitutes an important addition given the assemblage in which it was discovered," said Tal.

During many historical periods, the area of the excavation site served as farmland for the ancient city of Appollonia, also known as Arsuf, located along the nearby Mediterranean coast. Archaeological excavations conducted in what is now the Apollonia National Park between the 1950s and today show the site was continuously inhabited for more than 1,500 years — from the Persian period in the late sixth century BCE until the end of the Crusader period in the 13th century. The centerpiece of the park is a ruined Crusader fortress.

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