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Ancient statue of Greek god Apollo discovered in Gaza strip

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Statue of Apollo (Flickr/Debris2008)
Statue of Apollo (Flickr/Debris2008)

A rare bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo was unearthed last summer on the Gaza strip, Reuters reports, only to be concealed by Hamas since it resurfaced. The "priceless" discovery has thrown the archaeological community into a clamor, with a debate currently brewing about where the statue originated and if it's only the first of more discoveries to come.

Joudat Ghrab, a 26-year-old local Palestinian fisherman, tells Reuters that he saw the figure lying in the shallow waters just north of the Egyptian-Gaza border. What he at first thought was a badly burnt body turned out to be the ancient statue, which he and his family dragged ashore. "I felt it was something gifted to me by God," Ghrab said. He would then make attempts to determine the value of the statue. However, all efforts for a payout were quickly scuttled. After the statue was put on eBay for $500,000, Hamas seized the artifact and ordered a criminal investigation to find the seller.

Conducting a thorough investigation in Gaza will be difficult

Archaeologists are now forced to determine the age and provenance of the sculpture solely from images online, with experts saying the statue was cast roughly 2,000 years ago. However, that Ghrab discovered the artifact on the seashore has raised eyebrows. "This wasn't found on the seashore or in the sea," said Jean-Michel de Tarragon, a historian with the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem. "[It] is very clean. No, it was [found] inland and dry." Tarragon believes that the sculpture cannot have been created in a vacuum, though. As such, there is likely more to discover. However, since Gaza is cut off from the outside world, conducting a thorough excavation will be difficult for some time.