Antiquing in Israel a Tricky Business

27 Aug 2010 4:36 PM | Anonymous

Antiquing in Israel a Tricky Business
By Genevieve Long
Epoch Times Staff Created: Aug 27, 2010

JERUSALEM—The business of antiquities in Israel is so serious that the government has a special unit for antiquity robberies. That unit exists within the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), which works to prevent items from being taken before they leave the country. But the system of theft is so extensive that the origin of an item can be hard to track.

That might have something to do with the vast number of archaeological sites in the region.

According to the IAA, there are about 30,000 known antiquity sites in Israel, mostly in open areas without guards. Hundreds of those sites are revaged every year by robbers, who sell their loot to middlemen.

The theft of antiquities in Israel is systematized, and starts with the diggers. They toil illegally throughout the night at archaeological sites, with excavation tools and metal detectors. They often break into areas where they can find rare coins minted during the Jewish revolts against the Romans, which can fetch a high price on international markets. Coins are the most common artifact, but there is also the common robbery of graves, which often include rare and valuable artifacts, and underwater areas.

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