A woven basket believed to be around 10,500 years old has been uncovered in a cave in the Israeli desert. The perfectly-preserved basket was found inside the Muraba’at cave in the Judaean Desert, east of the Israeli capital, Jerusalem.
The basket was unearthed by experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria. The IAA announced the finding on 23rd March.
The authority believes the woven basket is likely to be the oldest of its kind ever found. It is believed to have been woven before pottery was even developed, and experts are currently analysing the material of the basket, which can hold 92 litres (20 imp gal).
Haim Cohen of the IAA told press: “We can already say that two people wove it, and that one of them was left-handed.” The basket contained a small quantity of soil and was covered with a lid. Cohen believes the basket was stored in the cave but its manufacturers did not likely live there. According to the IAA, more of these baskets may have been in existence but were probably snatched by antiquities looters before coming to light.
The IAA revealed that it is uncommon for organic materials to last for so long, and that this particular piece was so well-preserved because of the dry conditions of the Judaean Desert.
The desert has also unearthed other priceless artefacts, such as brightly-coloured textile fragments from Roman times, sandal parts, 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments, and even a comb containing the preserved remains of two-millennia-old lice.