Friday, May 6, 2011

Robbery of Ancient Graves

The Israel Antiquities Authority

In ancient times, the deceased were usually buried together with personal goods in the belief that they would be useful during the deceased's journey to the next world. Jewish graves from Second Temple Period times yield coffins and an abundance of ancient artifacts, mainly glass, decorated oil lamps, cooking utensils and jewelry. Artifacts from this period in the Holy Land, the time of Jesus, are in great demand. Stone burial coffins, some with ornamentation or inscriptions are one of the robbers' favorite items, scattering bones in all directions and stealing the ornamented coffins. Unornamented coffins are left, shattered in the burial cave.

Finding and entering a burial cave doesn't require much physical work. Upon discovery, the circular entry stone is pushed aside; robbers burst inside and systematically collect the burial site's contents. Some of the bone boxes in Jewish burials were decorated in geometric and floral patterns, many inscribed with the deceased's name, family ancestry and livelihood. Unornamented coffins are today used as flowerpots in private homes and by collectors. The ornamented coffins are stolen and sold for a high price.

Robbery of Roman and Byzantine Graves Roman and Byzantine period graves are rich in glass objects and attractive jewelry, as well as a variety of ceramic wares. Systematic destruction of the graves of Muslim sheikhs has recently become the latest fashion by bands of robbers searching for treasure. The entire gravesite is completely dug up from below in a search for gold treasure from the Ottoman period. Graves are desecrated and bones scattered over a large area.

Read more here.

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