An Israeli man has returned a 2000-year-old ballista stone that he stole from a Jerusalem archaeological site over 15 years ago amid fears around the coronavirus pandemic. The incident was made public by the man named Moshe Manies, who narrated the incident on Facebook saying that the stone was returned to him by a man, on account of anonymity, to deliver to the City of David National Park.
According to Manies' post, the guilt-ridden thief asked him to keep his identity a secret and informed him that he along with a friend landed on the collection of ballista stones on their trip to Jerusalem. “One of the boys took one of the stones home,” Manies wrote in his Facebook post. “And now, when he came across it while cleaning for Passover, together with the apocalyptic feeling that the coronavirus has generated, he felt the time was ripe to clear his conscience and asked me to help him return it to the Israel Antiquities Authority (sic),” Manies added.
The post caught the attention of the Israel Antiquities Authority, as an inspector in the IAA’s Theft Prevention Unit named Uzi Rotstein was tagged in the comment section by one of the site users. The officer then initiated the process to retrieve the rare artifact, as per Israel’s state media report.
Officer Rotstein told the Israeli press that thousand years old artifacts, such as this one, were national treasure. He was quoted saying that its burglary was regretful. The stone expressed the hidden stories of the land and the people that lived there before today's modern civilization, he added. It was meant to be documented and displayed in the museum.
Dr. Yuval Baruch of the Antiquities Authority’s Jerusalem region told the international media that the stone was an ancient weapon that was employed to besiege the opposition forces by projectiles at fortress walls. The ballista stones, she added, were significant of deadly battles fought in Jerusalem with the soldiers of the Roman Legion.
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