Anonymous thief returns Israeli artefacts with note 20 years later

2015-07-13 13:11
(Dusan Vranic, AP)

(Dusan Vranic, AP)

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Tel Aviv - An anonymous thief left two 2 000-year-old Roman sling stones and an apology note in the courtyard of a museum in southern Israel 20 years after the artefacts were stolen, a spokesperson for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Monday.

"I stole them in July 1995 and since then they have brought me nothing but trouble," the typed note read. "Please, do not steal antiquities!"

A bag containing the stones and the note, found by an employee of the Beersheba museum last week, also contained a map marking a site in the ruined Jewish city of Gamla where the stones were stolen.

Gamla, located on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is believed to have been built as a fort some two centuries before the birth of Christ.

The site of a Roman siege during the 66-73 Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, Gamla is a symbol of heroism for modern Israel and an important historical and archaeological site and tourist attraction.

The Romans shot such sling stones at the ancient Jewish city in a bid to approach its wall and break through it, said Danny Syon, an Israeli archaeologist who excavated sites at Gamla for many years.

"The stones were manually chiselled on site by soldiers or prisoners," he said.

Welcoming the return of the stones, he said almost 2 000 such stones were found during the archaeological excavations in the Gamla Nature Reserve.

The stones will soon join other sling stones, also called ballista balls, from Gamla that are now in Israel's National Treasures Department, the IAA said.

IAA spokesperson Yoli Shwartz said they were of immeasurable historic value. "We don't give the financial value of archaeological artefacts, because for us each ancient artefact is a world unto itself."

Read more on:    israel  |  archaeology

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