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A mysterious object from Watford Museum has sparked international interest after the discovery that it could be worth up to £100,000.
The piece was passed into the care of Watford Museum after being discovered with a hoard of Bronze Age items including arrows and axe heads in 1968. The discovery came from an archaeological excavation during the construction of Watford Industrial Estate in the Holywell area.
The bowl, thought to date from the Bronze Age, has been flown to a museum in Mainz, Germany, for in-depth analysis. It is thought that the piece of crockery could be a really early example of international trading between Europe and other continents.
The bowl has always been a popular item in the museum's archaeology collection, but little was known of its origin until a recent investigation by Professor Richard Harrison from the University of Bristol.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill visited Watford Museum to see the town's remarkable find. Dorothy said: "It is exciting. We tend to forget that there have been settlements around Watford for thousands of years. We tend to think of Watford as a product of the Victorian era, but there was clearly a Bronze Age settlement here. This bowl is very special."
Watford Museum and Heritage Manager Sarah Priestley said: "We believe the bowl could be Phoenician in origin - if so it is unique and one of the most important discoveries in recent British archaeological history. It is wonderful that it is our colleagues in our Twin Town of Mainz undertaking such fascinating research on our behalf."
Archaeologists and experts at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz will now undertake a full analysis and attempt to recreate the bowl using methods and materials dating back thousands of years. The replica and the bowl itself will then return to Watford Museum.
The Phoenicians were an ancient people who were based on the coastline of modern-day Lebanon and Syria.
Their dominance as maritime traders dates back to around 1,200BC and their main trading routes were along the costs of northern Africa and southern Europe in the Mediterranean Sea.