Looted Items Recovered From Car Trunk Could Be War Booty Seized by Jewish Rebels Against Rome | Smart News

Artifacts, such as this bronze jug, are decorated with Roman religious symbols that ancient Jews would have considered idolatrous.
Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority

Last week, Jerusalem police seized dozens of ancient artifacts from the trunk of a car during a traffic stop. Now the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) says the artefacts may represent loot taken from Roman soldiers by Jewish rebels during the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-135 CE

Authorities discovered the objects after stopping a vehicle driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood, Sharon Wrobel reports for the Alger. Inside the chest was a box filled with well-preserved artifacts. Researchers say the items were likely looted from a compound in the Judean foothills, where fighters took refuge during the uprising.

The cache contained ornate Roman artifacts, including two 2,000-year-old bronze incense burners, a bronze jug depicting a Roman banquet, a decorated stone tripod bowl, clay lamps, and hundreds of coins late Romans. According to a 2016 IAA statement, ancient bronze artifacts are rarely found today, as people typically melted down items made from this precious metal for reuse. Most of the bronze objects dated to antiquity have survived because they were deliberately hidden or inadvertently kept in wrecks.

hand holding a lot of old coins

The items seized included coins from the late Roman era.

Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority

As Luke Tress writes for the Israel Times, the IAA suspects that a looter stole the artifacts from a Bar Kokhba-era hideout on the border of Tarqumiya, in the southern West Bank. Authorities began monitoring the site after noticing signs of disruption, but were unable to catch the suspected thieves.

“They left behind ancient finds similar to those now recovered in the possession of the suspects when they fled,” Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s theft prevention unit, said in a statement. separate. “We believe that the finds recently recovered in Jerusalem were taken at this site. “

After confiscating the items, police arrested three people in connection with the theft, reports the Jerusalem Post.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the revolt, named after its leader, Simeon Bar Kokhba, began in AD 132 after years of skirmishes between Jews and Romans in Judea. When the Roman Emperor Hadrian suppressed Jewish religious practices and announced his intention to found a Roman colony at the site of Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba led a military uprising. The rebels were soon crushed by forces under the command of Roman General Julius Severus, and the Jews were banished from Jerusalem.

researchers with artifacts

The Israel Antiquities Authority hopes to further study the artifacts once the investigation is completed.

Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority

During the rebellion, Jewish fighters used many caves, mainly in the foothills of Judea, as hiding places. They stockpiled weapons and food, which enabled them to carry out guerrilla attacks against Roman forces.

By a separate Jerusalem Post report, archaeologists have cited several reasons for identifying artefacts recovered as spoils of war. Because the objects were decorated with Roman religious figures and symbols that ancient Jews considered idol worship, the rebels would not have used them. If they had wanted to use the objects, they would have degraded the numbers first. In addition, the Jews of the day would not have conducted rites involving the burning of incense, as this practice ended with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

“These ancient finds embody the history of the country, but they are just a commodity, sold to the highest bidder out of sheer greed for thieves and dealers,” IAA Director Eli Eskozido said in the statement. . “It is extremely important to prevent any attempt to smuggle in illegal antiques, to recover valuable finds and return them to the public and to the state.”

Once legal proceedings against the suspects are completed, Eskozido adds, the IAA will ask the court to confiscate the artefacts and hand them over for conservation and further research.


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