A team of North Carolina-based researchers unearthed clues about the ancient Nabatean city of Petra in Jordan this summer.
The group consisted of faculty and students from North Carolina State University and East Carolina University.
The team discovered two marble statues of the mythological goddess Aphrodite.
A professor at NC State said the team found pieces while excavating domestic structures in Petra’s North Ridge area during May and June.
The statues also feature the mythological god Cupid and are largely intact from pedestal to shoulders.
Both of the statues heads and much of their upper extremities were also recovered at the site and will be restored.
The team thought they were digging at an ordinary home when they came across the fragmented statues next to the home’s staircase.
“Even though they weren’t exactly what we were looking for, these finds still tell us a lot about the population,” Tom Parker, NC State professor said.
The dig team, which Parker co-directs with bioarchaeologist Megan Perry, professor of anthropology at ECU, found a wealth of other artifacts that shed more light on Nabatean daily life.
Digging one other domestic structure and three rock-cut shaft tombs, the researchers discovered installations for cooking and storage, occupational remains such as pottery and animal bones, an iron sword, ceramic oil lamps and human bones intermixed with personal adornments and jewelry.