GAZA CITY — The Hamas-run ministry of tourism and antiquities in Gaza on Monday announced the discovery of ancient artifacts near the Egyptian border town of Rafah.
“The most important of the findings are 1,300 antique silver coins, both large and small,” said Mohammed al-Agha, tourism and antiquities minister in the Islamist-run government.
He said archaeologists had also uncovered a black basalt grinder, a coin with a cross etched on it, and the remains of walls and arches believed to have been built in 320 BC.
They also discovered a “mysterious” underground compartment with a blocked entrance that appeared to be a tomb, Agha said.
The Palestinian Authority has been carrying out archaeological excavations since the 1990s, but this was the first major find to be announced by the Hamas-run government.
The archaeological dig, still under way, is close to where a vast network of smuggling tunnels provides a vital economic lifeline amid strict Israeli and Egyptian blocade.