Jerusalem Museum to Display Looted Near East Artifacts

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. Leviticus 19:11 (The Israel Bible™)

A collection of artifacts that were stolen but later rescued will be on display at the end of the month at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

The museum will open a new exhibit on Dec. 30 called “Finds Gone Astray,” featuring tens of thousands of antiquities such as, but not limited to, stone and pottery vessels, inscribed clay tablets, coins, figurines and other items of significance from the ancient Near East.

Some of the Mideast artifacts were illegally trafficked into the region, while others were unlawfully uncovered in ways that usually caused damage.

According to the museum, “Hours of intensive detective work including patient surveillance, carefully planned ambushes and nightly observations led to successfully intercepting the thieves and retrieving these priceless artifacts. The rescued objects have been carefully preserved and stored, and numerous looters operating in Judea and Samaria have been prosecuted.”

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The exhibit will be the first of a new series of publications documenting the more than 40,000 stolen items.

Cuneiform tablets documenting daily life of Judean exiles in Babylon on display in Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum. (Credit: Reemon Silverman/ Tazpit News Agency)

“The primary goal of the museum is to present the vital history of our region, the crossroads of the ancient world, through innovative exhibitions and programming,” said Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem director Amanda Weiss in a statement. “‘Finds Gone Astray’ is a unique opportunity to shed light on the importance of preserving the history of our region and protecting our ancient sites.”

“Theft and destruction of antiquities is a widespread phenomenon that crosses borders for a range of reasons. In Judea and Samaria specifically, there is rampant destruction of ancient sites caused by preparations for cultivating or building on the land,” said Hananya Hezmi, head of the Central Command. “The methods used by the antiquities looters to uncover and expose the findings are brutal, causing irreversible damage to both sites and the findings and clearly harming academic research.”

He added that “we will continue to do everything in our power and invest the necessary resources in order to stop the damage to our shared culture and history.”