Authorities Prevent Smuggling of Bar Kochba-Era Artifact (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 05/18/05)
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An antiquities expert attempting to sneak an ancient measuring-
weight out of Israel was thwarted by a joint Postal Authority,
Antiquities Authority and Customs Bureau effort.
The weight is made of bronze and was used by businessmen and traders
during the Bar Kochba period (132-135 C.E.). On the weight, “Year 3”
is inscribed, referring to the third year of Jewish autonomy during
that era. There are also letters that appear to spell “Shimon Bar
Kochba – Prince of Israel.” Jewish symbols such as a palm branches
and a menorah are carved into the weight as well.
The head of the unit for preventing antiquities smuggling, Amir
Ganor, told Arutz-7’s Shimon Cohen that the smugglers attempted to
hide the weight inside a book. They carved a hole inside the book by
cutting out parts of its pages. Postal workers discovered the weight
during a routine search; they alerted Customs officials, who in turn
called in members of the Antiquities Authority.
An initial investigation revealed that the smuggling of a rare
archaeological artifact had been attempted, leading to the arrest of
The smuggler turned out to be a former antiquities dealer and expert
in antiquities law. His legal knowledge made it obvious to him that
exporting such an artifact would not be approved, as it falls into
the class of archaeological artifacts of national importance. The
smuggler therefore hid it in the book and attempted to mail it to
the United States.
The Antiquities Authority requested a search warrant for the
smuggler’s home. During the search, agents of the authority found
documents attesting to the smuggling of other very rare artifacts.
Ganor said that the weight was only the fifth of its kind ever
discovered. Two of the weights are in the Israel Museum, and the
others are in the possession of private collectors. The significance
of the weights lies in what they teach about the Bar Kochba revolt.
The weights were a symbol of autonomy from the Roman government, as
attested by the inscription, “Shimon Bar Kochba – Prince of Israel.”
The expert attempted to send the weight to an international
antiquities expert, one who is widely published and visits Israel at
least twice a year to transport approved artifacts from Israel to
The Antiquities Authority is seeking an indictment against the
Israeli smuggler, and plans on arresting the American buyer should
he come to Israel as well. If not, a request will be filed for the
relevant U.S. authorities to open an investigation of his activities.
(IsraelNationalNews © 05/18/05)
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