Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A woman's discovery while taking a walk in northern Israel led to the unearthing of two 1,700-year-old Roman busts.
The unidentified woman first found one sticking out of the ground earlier this month.
The Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit was called, and inspectors were dispatched to the site near Beit She'an. They unearthed the first bust and as they worked they found another one next to it.
The busts date to the Late Roman period -- 3rd-4th centuries BC.
Beit She'an is nearly 19 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, in a fertile valley.
Apparently, the busts were exposed after recent heavy rainfall in the area, and "it's important to note that heavy winter rains can bring other finds to the surface and we call on people to report them to us," Nir Distelfeld, Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit inspector, said in a news release Sunday.
They were taken to the Israel Antiquities Authority laboratories to protect them from theft, and to study and preserve them.
"These are very important finds, which tell us a great deal about the inhabitants of the Beth She'an area in antiquity," Distelfeld said. "The discovery of the busts fills in another piece of the puzzle in our understanding of the material culture of the people of this land in the past. These finds belong to everyone in the country, and now we can all enjoy them and understand their historical context."
The busts, which were made of local limestone, show unique facial features, clothing details and hairstyles, acording to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit.
"It seems that at least one of them depicts a bearded man," Klein said.
Busts like these were usually placed near or in a burial cave, and they may have represented the image of the deceased along general lines, Klein said.
Similar busts have been found in the past in the Beth She'an area and in northern Jordan.
"But not one resembles another, and that's the importance of these finds," Klein said. "These busts are in the Oriental style, which shows that at the end of the Roman period the use of Classical art had subsided, and local trends came into vogue."
The woman will receive a certificate of appreciation.