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Divers to Look for Century-Old 'Treasure' in Sea of Galilee.

By Israel Hayom

For nearly 100 years the Ottoman ship "Shariah" has been at the bottom of Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. Explorers now hope to raise the ship, which was sunk in World War I, and find a treasure chest of gold coins believed to have been on board.

Last month, descendants of Australian cavalry soldiers, who fought in Palestine during World War I, visited Israel to re-enact pivotal battles. The most famous battle, for the southern city of Be'er Sheva, helped turn the tide of the war and shape the modern Middle East. Another battle against the Ottoman Turks, for control of the train station at Tzemach, located on the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, was one of the last cavalry battles in world history.

The battle for Tzemach, on Sept. 25, 1918, saw something dramatic but far-less known take place, which has remained a mystery to this day. Decades after the battle, first-person accounts that British planes bombed the Ottoman ship were confirmed by marine archaeological scans of the sea floor.

The legend that has been passed on through the generations in Tiberias and the Jordan Valley, however, tells of gold treasure aboard the sunken ship, earmarked for paying the salaries of the Turkish soldiers stationed in the area at the time.

The late Prof. Avner Raban, a pioneer in maritime archeology in Israel, was a member of the first exploration team that located the Shariah on the sea floor in 1975. However, due to the proximity to the Syrian border in those days, the sunken ship could not be examined more thoroughly. A second exploration delegation, headed by Raban, was finally able to resume exploration in the latter part of the 1980s.

Among other objectives, the researchers sought to verify the legend of the lost treasure. Raban's team was able to find the ship's nameplate "Shariah" and several swords, but the lost treasure remained unaccounted for and continued to this day to tantalize marine explorers and longtime residents of Tiberias and the Jordan Valley.

In the summer of 2012, explorers for the first time were able to take video footage of the sunken ship. The muddy waters along the sea floor hampered efforts to solve the mystery of the lost treasure. The secondary purpose of that mission, however, was to prepare the groundwork for the explorations currently taking place and for raising the ship, nearly a century after it was bombed to the bottom of the sea.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Nov 24, 2017
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