Ancient stones left at Israeli museum 20 years after theft

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Two Roman artifacts, each more than 2,000 years old, were left in the courtyard of an Israeli museum accompanied by an anonymous note whose author claimed to have stolen them two decades earlier.

The two sling stones left at the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Beersheba last week will be forwarded to the National Treasures Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, according to a news release issued Monday by Israel’s Government Press Office.

The typed letter accompanying the two stones said, “These are two Roman ballista 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!”

According to the Government Press Office, many similar stones are now on display in the Gamla Nature Reserve, in the Golan Heights.

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Danny Syon, an Israel Antiquities Authority official who excavated at Gamla for many years, said the stones date from the Early Roman period and were shot by Romans at the defenders of the city.

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