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Biblical Sherd, Removed from Israel, Found in N.Y. and Returned to Israel

Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney for New York County, announced today the recovery of a priceless antiquity from ancient Biblical times. The object is a sherd –a fragment of a clay tablet–bearing a cuneiform inscription of unique archaeological significance. Morgenthau today returned this antiquity, dating from between 1600 and 2000 BCE, to Amos Ganor, acting Israel Consul General in New York.

The sherd was originally found at the site of the archaeological excavation of the ancient city of Hazor which is about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. It was removed from Israel in violation of that country’s antiquities law, which requires the finder of any antiquity to notify the government of the discovery and afford it an opportunity to acquire the object.

The Israeli government filed a complaint with the District Attorney through Dr. Avraham Biran, former director of the Israel Department of Antiquities, after efforts to negotiate a return of the sherd failed. No arrests were made nor was the identity of the person who took the sherd revealed.

BACKGROUND OF SHERD

The sherd records a case of litigation, conducted in the presence of the king concerning real estate in Hazor, it is of great historic value because it confirms that the excavation, begun in 1955 near the Sea of Galilee is the site of the ancient city of Hazor, according to Prof. Yigal Yadin, who headed a four-year archaeological expedition at Hazor. Ancient Hazor was mentioned in the Egyptian Execration texts of the 18th century BCE, the annals of the Pharaoh Thut-Mose III, Amen-hotp and Seti I and in several chapters of the Bible.

The investigation that led to the recovery of the sherd was conducted by Assistant District Attorney Michael A, Guadagno. The DA’s squad headed by Deputy Inspector Richard Condon, assisted in the investigation.

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