JERUSALEM, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Israeli archaeologists have discovered engravings of ships and animals in excavation at the southern city of Be'er-Sheva, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) reported on Wednesday.
The engravings were exposed as part of preparatory work for the construction of a new neighborhood in the city.
They were discovered on the walls of a large, Roman-era water reservoir, which reaches a depth of 12 meters.
It was first seen as a large depression in the soil, but after initial cleaning, a well-hewn and plastered staircase was exposed, leading into the depth of the cistern.
In the plaster that covered the interior of the cistern, the archeologists identified engraved lines.
Although many of them have become blurred over time, it is still possible to see that the thin lines engraved represent at least 13 ships, a sailor and several kinds of animals.
The ships include descriptions of technical details and proportions between the parts of the ship, which imply actual knowledge of shipping.
The nature of the cistern's construction and its plastering indicate that it was probably hewn in the first or second centuries CE and may have served the residents of a settlement, which was discovered about 800 meters from the reservoir.
Though the cistern was found filled with sediments, it is apparent that it was maintained, cleaned and in use until recently.
The sediment included ceramic shards, ammunition shells and parts of weapons that the IAA said date back to World War I.