A family found an ornamental 1,400-year-old clay figure on the ground while hiking through the hills south of the city of Modiin on Saturday.
Doron, the father of the Lavi family from the central town of Tzur Yitzhak, contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) when they came upon the artifact during their travels, the IAA said in a statement on Tuesday.
The face was the decorative end of a candle holder dating from the 6th-7th Century in the Byzantine era, according to research by Dr. Itamar Taxel, the head of the ceramic specialties branch at the IAA.
Though not an especially rare find, it was a “fine” object, said Issy Kornfeld, the archaeologist who arrived to collect the artifact.
“The clay candles were used for lighting and were a typical find from these periods. But not every candle had a holder, and certainly not a designed one,” he said.
“The candle that the holder belonged to was used for the practical function of lighting, and also as an ornamental object,” he added.
Eli Eskosido, director of the IAA, thanked the Lavi family for carrying out an “act of good citizenship” and handing the artifact over to the state body.
He noted that strong rains brought on two weeks ago by powerful winter storm Barbara had likely cleared the earth, paving the way for the discovery of more artifacts.
“We call the public to be vigilant, and if you come across an ancient find, leave it in its place and call the IAA, which will come to the field,” he said, adding that artifacts provide important information for research.