Stolen Ancient Israeli Stones Returned After 20 Years | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Stolen Ancient Israeli Stones Returned After 20 Years

Posted: Jul 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

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 artifacts were stolen.

A spokeswoman for the Israel Antiquities Authority said this when he addressed newsmen in Tel Aviv.

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

A bag containing the stones and the note, found by an employee of the Beersheba museum on Friday, 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,’’ Danny Syon, an Israeli archaeologist, who excavated sites at Gamla for many years, said.

Syon also said the stones were manually chiseled on site by soldiers or prisoners.

He welcomed the return of the stones, adding that 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 spokeswoman, Yoli Shwartz, said they were of immeasurable historic value.

“We do not give the financial value of archeological artifacts because for us, each ancient artifacts is a world unto itself,’’ Shwartz said.