By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
SIDON: The British Museum’s excavation team in Sidon have recently unearthed a new grave containing human skeletal remains belonging to a Canaanite warrior, archeology expert and field supervisor Claude Doumet Serhal told The Daily Star on Monday. According to Serhal, the delegation made the discovery at the “Freres” excavation site near Sidon’s crusader castle.
“This is the 77th grave that we have discovered at this site since our digging activities has started ten years ago with Lebanese-British financing,” she said.
According to Serhal, the remains go back to 2000 B.C., with a British archeologist saying the warrior had been buried at the age of 15 to 20 along with a spear and two stamps.
“We have discovered earlier this year a jar also belonging to the Canaanite period i.e. to 2,000 years B.C. where a skeleton for a newborn baby had been found,” she added.
The archeologist said that Freres “is the first excavation site in old Sidon that is located on a land owned by the General Directorate of Antiquities.”
“We can say that through the discoveries we have been making at this site, we will be able to draw a graph showing the history of this ancient Mediterranean merchant city since 3000 BC,” she added.
Serhal said the British delegation would continue its work until the first of September “when we will announce the discoveries we have made.”
“Among the institutions that have taken in charge the financing of our project, are the British Old House Institution, the Issam Fares Foundation, the National Cement Company, the Hariri Foundation and Sidon’s school network in addition to Byblos Bank,” she said.
Serhal had described Sidon as one of the most important metropolises of the Near East from the earliest of times.
“It is mentioned 38 times in the Old Testament and appears in Genesis as the oldest Canaanite city, ‘the firstborn of Canaan,'” she said.
During those 10 years ago of excavation the discoveries were continuous: tombs and burial jars for children and adults, jugs, pieces of pottery with Phoenician inscription, bronze weapons for warriors in addition to jewelry.
“Last year, for example, we found tons of wheat going back to 3000 BC,” Serhal added.
The British Museum launched earlier this year an archaeological documentary entitled “Sidon 5,000 years” with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the ancient history of the southern port city.