Courtesy Ephraim Stern

Its side removed along an old break, a modest 3,000-year-old jar yields a literal treasure. Sometime in the late 11th or early 10th century B.C.E., a Phoenician resident of Dor stuffed about 20 pounds of silver into this clay jar and buried the vessel underneath a floor. But the owner never returned to retrieve it. Not until the end of the 1995 excavation season did the jar and its hoard resurface. Archaeologist Ephraim Stern decided to leave the jar in place until the following year so he would have time to excavate it in context. Excavators cracked open the jar, revealing the hoard of silver, which over time had become clumped together.

In ancient times, the silver, which was stored in linen money bags, was used as a form of currency. The Phoenician who buried it was most probably a merchant who used silver money to purchase goods to trade in western lands.