Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomb robbers, ancient tunnels and a cryptic Dead Sea Scroll bring drama to a sleepy suburb

Antiquities theft is on the rise around the quiet commuter town of Modi’in
Modiin, seen here, is known more for clean parks and suburban livingthan for its ancient past, but the hills around the city
are full of 2,000-year-old ruins and escape tunnels.
(Photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Before dawn on June 6, the members of a small squad from the Israel Antiquities Authority rappelled to the bottom of an ancient well, crawled through a narrow entrance into a 2,000-year-old horizontal tunnel and surprised two men scouring the passageway for artifacts.

The men, Palestinians from the West Bank, were cornered. They gave themselves up without a fight.

The incident followed another arrest, this one in February, by Antiquities Authority officers of five illegal diggers hiding in a cave in the same area — part of a notable rise in activity by antiquities thieves in the hills around Modi’in, a burgeoning but sleepy commuter city of 80,000 known more for clean parks than for ancient artifacts and tomb raiders....

Suggested reasons for the increase include the construction of the West Bank security barrier in other areas once popular with antiquities thieves; a greater public awareness of the wealth of archaeological finds in the hills near Modi’in, which are full of the remains of 2,000-year-old villages and warrens of escape tunnels dating to the Jewish revolts against Rome; and even — perhaps fancifully — a connection to a mysterious treasure map in one of the most cryptic of the Dead Sea Scrolls. -- Matti Friedman, Times of Israel

To read more, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment