Gazan unearths ancient graves in vegetable patch

Abdel-Karim Cafran, a Palestinian resident of Beit Hanun, holds a pottery fragment at a freshly-discovered cemetery in the garden of his house in the town in the northern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018
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Gazan unearths ancient graves in vegetable patch

BEIT HANUN: When Abdul Karim Al-Kafarnah went to check the rainwater gushing down a hole in his garden he was in for quite a shock — hidden steps led him down to an ancient grave complex.
The 24-year-old lives in the Beit Hanoun district of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli border which suffered intensive bombardment during the 2014 conflict between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants.
The family home was destroyed and the surrounding plots heavily churned up, leaving extensive craters in the ground.
The flash-flooding earlier this week led him to one particular spot, where, on removing a large stone, he found a staircase leading four meters (13 feet) down into an ancient tomb.
“I discovered the place where the water was falling in,” he told AFP.
“I lifted the stone and a stale smell came out.”
As he descended he found a total of nine graves, with piles of bones in some of them — seemingly containing more than one body each. He also found votive lamps and other pottery.
Gaza-based archaeologist Ayman Hassouna said the finds suggested the grave dated back to the Roman era, 2,000 years ago.
“The burial and excavation methods in this tomb date it back to the Roman period but it may have continued in use into the early Byzantine period (5th to 7th centuries AD),” he said.
Professor Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, said such tombs were relatively common in the Holy Land between 100 BC and 100 AD, and again between 300 and 500 AD.
“Typically, these were family tombs, or sometimes larger tomb complexes could be divided up among families,” she told AFP.
Gaza was a prosperous port in the Roman and early Byzantine periods and boasted many ancient monuments that have since been lost.


Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

A father had to pull his son from the jaws of a dingo after it had dragged the sleeping toddler from a camper van on Australia's popular Fraser Island. (Reuters)
Updated 10 min 39 sec ago
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Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

  • Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory

SYDNEY: A dingo dragged a sleeping toddler from a camper van on a popular Australian holiday island late on Thursday, but his father awoke and pulled his 14-month-old son from the jaws of the dog-like dingo.
"The parents woke up to the baby screaming and chased after him and had to fight the dingoes off to take the 14-month-old boy away," paramedic Ben Du Toit told local media on Friday.
The boy suffered head and neck injuries in the attack on Fraser Island off the northeast coast and was taken to hospital.
Australia's dingo is a protected species on Fraser Island and are a popular attraction for camping tourists. The latest dingo attack was the third this year on Fraser Island.
In 1980 baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from a tent in a camping ground in Australia's outback, with her mother claiming she was taken by a dingo. The baby's body was never found, creating a mystery that captivated Australians for years and was made into a book and a film with Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.
Azaria's mother Lindy was jailed for three years over her daughter's death before later being cleared, but it wasn't until 2012 that a court ruled that a dingo killed Azaria.
Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, they are a declared pest species.
Dingoes hold a significant place in the spiritual and cultural practices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Fraser Island's dingo population is estimated to be around 200, with packs of up to 30 dogs roaming the island, according to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
The department warns that generally dingoes go about their lives and stay clear of people. "From time to time, dingoes may come close and some encounters can turn to tragedy," a statement on the department's website warns. "Stay alert and stay calm."