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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘antiquities’

Driver of Norwegian Diplomatic Vehicle Found Smuggling Antiquities to Jordan

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Inspectors at the Allenby Crossing uncovered 10 kilograms of ancient figurines and coins during a routine inspection last week.

The treasure trove was discovered on May 31 during a search of a Mercedes car that was driven on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, which owned the vehicle.

The artifacts were apparently hidden behind the side panels of the car, wrapped in cartons.

The driver, Issa Nagam of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, is suspected of smuggling the antiquities. He was arrested and released under restrictive conditions by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Justice Karen Miller.

The Customs Investigation Unit and the Jerusalem Tax Authority is involved with the investigation of this case.

Hana Levi Julian

Unique 1,800-Year-Old Sarcophagus Found at Ashkelon Building Site

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

A unique and extremely impressive stone sarcophagus approximately 1,800 years old has been exposed at a building site in a new neighborhood being built in Ashkelon.

This occurred during an overnight operation between Tuesday and Wednesday carried out by inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, the Southern District of the IAA, and patrol officers and detectives from the Ashkelon police station.

The find is among the rarest sarcophagi ever discovered in Israel. The coffin, made of hard limestone, weighs approximately two tons, is 2.5 meters long, and is sculpted on all sides. A life-size figure of a person is carved on the lid of the sarcophagus.

A wreath coming out of the upper edge of the sarcophagus, which is decorated with bulls’ heads. The wreath consists of acanthus leaves together with pinecones and fruit. A grape cluster is in the center of the wreath, and a rose-like decoration is also displayed in it.

A wreath coming out of the upper edge of the sarcophagus, which is decorated with bulls’ heads. The wreath consists of acanthus leaves together with pinecones and fruit. A grape cluster is in the center of the wreath, and a rose-like decoration is also displayed in it.

The unique artifact was repeatedly struck by a tractor in different places, scarring the stone and damaging the decorations sculpted by an artist on its sides. The irreparable damage was caused by the contractors who encountered the impressive sarcophagus during the course of their work.

They decided to hide it, pulling it out of the ground with a tractor while aggressively damaging it, and then concealing it beneath a stack of sheet metal and boards. They poured a concrete floor in the lot so as to conceal any evidence of the existence of the antiquities site.

Information received by the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery about unlawful activities at the construction site led to a nighttime search being conducted in the area. A close examination of the area revealed the sarcophagus and the lid concealed there.

The sarcophagus lid and the sarcophagus during the initial cleaning.

The sarcophagus lid and the sarcophagus during the initial cleaning.

Five Palestinian Arab construction workers from the Hebron area were detained who were sleeping at the building site. During investigation of the laborers at the Ashkelon police station, it became clear that the sarcophagus was excavated last week. When questioned, they showed the investigators photos and videos taken at the time of the sarcophagus’ discovery and while removing it from the ground.

Later that night, two building contractors were detained who are residents of the city and were responsible for the construction work at the site. The contractors were questioned under caution on suspicion of not reporting an ancient discovery and on suspicion of damaging an antiquities site and its artifacts – an offense punishable by five years imprisonment.

“This is an extremely serious case of damage to a rare antiquity of unprecedented artistic, historical and cultural importance,” said Amir Ganor, head of the Inspection Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The IAA is attentive to development needs and the needs of the public, but will strictly enforce the law against those who knowingly damage antiquities, which are assets belonging to us all.

“Out of consideration for the owners of the lots, we permitted building in the new neighborhood of villas, on condition they would report any discovery of antiquities in the area right away and immediately halt work until the arrival of our representative.

Hana Levi Julian

Thief Returns ancient Roman Artifacts: ‘They Brought Me Nothing but Trouble’

Monday, July 13th, 2015

By Zack Pyzer/Tazpit News Agency

A pair of ancient Roman trebuchet stones were discovered outside a museum in southern Israel on Monday, accompanied by a cryptic note.

The artifacts were identified as two of the many thousands of such projectiles launched by the Roman legions at Jewish rebels in 67 CE, during a battle for the northern city of Gamla.

The stones were left outside the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Be’er Sheva. Judging by the content of the note, it seems as though the person who stole them 20 years previously was at last righting his wrong.

The typed message from the unnamed individual was discovered by an employee of the museum, and began, “These are two Roman trebuchet balls from Gamla, from a residential quarter at the foot of the summit.”

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

Explaining the significance of the projectiles, Dr. Danny Syon, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “The Romans shot these stones at the defenders of the city of Gamla, in order to keep them away from the city walls.”

“In that way they could approach the wall and breach it with a battering ram. The stones were manually chiseled on site by soldiers or prisoners,” Syon continued.

The trebuchet balls will now be displayed in the National Treasures Department, while many other stones from the Gamla region are already exhibited at the Gamla Nature Reserve.

In a land bursting with archeological treasures, this is not the first time that stolen antiquities have reached the Israel Antiquities Authority in a bizarre manner.

In one case, an Israeli returned a 2,000 year old Jewish coffin to the authorities. It had been kept in a bedroom in Tel Aviv until the man realized the morbidity of the find.

Steve

Arabs Caught Red-Handed Stealing Second Temple Coffins

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Israel and Palestinian Authority Arabs were caught red-handed a last Friday in the process of stealing 11 ancient coffins from a magnificent ancient burial cave in the Jerusalem region and which the Jewish population used for burial in the Second Temple period.

Some of the ossuaries, chests that were frequently used for re-burial where space was scarce, still contained the skeletal remains of the deceased.

Israel Antiquities Authority detectives and police arrested several suspects early Friday morning, and the arrest were kept under was until Monday morning,

The suspects  are residents of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Arab village of Abadiyah, in the vicinity of Bethlehem and were caught as they were closing a deal to sell the ossuaries to Jewish merchants, near the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem.

It is suspected the ossuaries were recently looted from an ancient burial cave in the region of Jerusalem.

The Jewish population used stone ossuaries for secondary burial during the Second Temple period and they were very common from the second century BCE until the first century CE. The ossuaries are decorated with typical Jewish symbols, among them the lily flower, the six-petal rosette and other symbols. The decorations adorning the ossuaries were a major element of the Jewish art of the period.

Shallow engravings, etched in the past by means of a sharp stylus, were found on the walls of two of the seized ossuaries. They cite the names of the deceased whose bones were collected in the coffins. One of the engraved ossuaries that were found bore the name “Ralfin,” written in squared Hebrew script characteristic of the Second Temple period.

This name is apparently a Hebraized form of an unusual Roman name. “This is the first time this name appears on an ossuary from the Land of Israel,” according to Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, who examined the ossuaries.

On the other ossuary is a Greek inscription that could not be deciphered, and below it the name “Yo‘azar”, in squared Hebrew script. The name Yo‘azar is a common Jewish name in the Second Temple period, and occurs in contemporary written sources, such as Josephus’ writings. The name appears in this form and a slightly different form – “Yeho‘azar” – on numerous Jewish ossuaries from this period.

Some of the ossuaries were engraved with inscriptions in squared Hebrew script, characteristic of the Second Temple period and some bore Greek inscriptions, including the names of the deceased.

“These are singular finds,” Dr. Klein said. “The inscriptions on the ossuaries provide us with additional characters and names from amongst the Jewish population in the Second Temple period, and the motifs adorning the ossuaries will supplement our knowledge with new information about the world of Jewish art in this period.

“There is no doubt that the ossuaries were recently looted from a magnificent burial cave in Jerusalem. Remnants of paint remained on top of the ossuaries and the containers themselves belong to the group of “magnificent Jerusalem” ossuaries that were manufactured in the city in antiquity.” The Israel Antiquities Authority reports that the bones found inside the ossuaries will be turned over to the Ministry of Religious Affairs for burial.

Antiquities robbery is a serious offense punishable by five years in jail, and the unlicensed trafficking in antiquities is a criminal offense punishable by law by a prison sentence of three years.

Jewish Press Staff

New Finds from First Temple Period at Motza

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Temple and rare cache of sacred vessels from Biblical times discovered at Tel Motza
Rare evidence of the religious practices and rituals in the early days of the Kingdom of Judah has recently been discovered at Tel Motza, to the west of Jerusalem. In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting at the Tel Motza archaeological site, prior to work being carried out on the new Highway 1 from Sha’ar HaGai to Jerusalem…According to Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.” According to the archaeologists, “Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown.”

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

…”The current excavation has revealed part of a large structure, from the early days of the monarchic period (Iron Age IIA). The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: the rays of the sun rising in the  east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure. The assemblage includes ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on a high base which were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines of two kinds: the first, small heads in human form (anthropomorphic) with a flat headdress and curling hair; the second, figurines of animals (zoomorphic) – mainly of harnessed animals…

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

… “The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archaeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general, and in the Jerusalem region in particular, prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem.”

So, is the Biblical narrative reliable?

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/my-right-word/new-finds-from-first-temple-period-at-motza/2012/12/26/

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