Stolen Jerusalem Stone Returned, Accidental Thief Forgiven

Who says that there aren’t honest people around today?

In 1997, a 46lb fragment of a marble column disappeared from one of the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was conducting south of the Temple Mount. It has now been returned.

Several weeks ago, the IAA received an unexpected e-mail from a Christian clergyman in New York: “I am requesting forgiveness for a member of my congregation”, he wrote. “The fellow confessed to me that twelve years ago he took a stone from Jerusalem and his conscience has bothered him ever since. I wish to return the stone to Israel and hope that you will forgive the man for his transgression.”

The stone fragment arrived in Jerusalem in a wooden crate that was specially constructed for the flight back to Israel, with a letter from the guilty party, which read:

Though taking archeological artifacts can lead to imprisonment, the IAA said that because of the “sincerity” of the letter, it will forgive the man, as requested.

IAA officials said that the stone was a column fragment that was discovered during the excavation of one of the Umayyad buildings located south of the Temple Mount. This is the second drama related to stolen archeological artifacts in a month. In early May, the Bintel Blog reported on an Indiana Jones-style operation which led to the return of a stolen 2000-year-old Hebrew document.

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Stolen Jerusalem Stone Returned, Accidental Thief Forgiven

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