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January 20, 2013 2:28 am

Rare Artifact Stolen From Israeli Archaeological Dig

avatar by Aryeh Savir / Tazpit News Agency

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A jug found in ashes. Photo: Courtesy of Tel Shiloh archaeological site.

A recently uncovered rare archaeological artifact was stolen this week from the Tel Shiloh archaeological site in Israel. Tazpit News Agency reported last week on the discovery of the artifact, a broken clay pitcher lying in a layer of reddish ashes that helped to complete the story of the devastation of Shiloh, the ancient capital of Israel during the First Israelite commonwealth. The ashes found attest to a devastating fire the occurred on the site. The dating of the clay pitcher, 1050 BCE, correlates with the dating of the limited portrayal of events surrounding Shiloh’s destruction depicted in Book of Samuel. This artifact is one of its kind, and it was the first to shed light on the biblical mystery it solves.

The artifact was stolen from the exact location it was found at, still lodged in the wall. A part of it was left behind.

The site administration filed a compliant with the police immediately after the theft was discovered.

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Avital Selah, director of the Tel Shiloh site, told Tazpit News Agency he could not find a motive for the theft. “I don’t know what can be done with it; it has no value as an antique, but does have immense historical significance. I believe it may be the act of someone who desired to have the artifact in his possession after hearing about the discovery in the media. I don’t think there was criminal intent here; I don’t think it was a professional job, only poor behavior. I call on the person who took the artifact to return it and save this extremely important historical finding.”

The Tel Shiloh site is now exploring the option of installing further security measures to prevent such incidents in the future. “These are the treasures of the Tabernacle. We can’t afford to lose them again,” said Selah.

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