JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
A rare mosaic floor was stolen from an archaeological excavation site at Beit She’an, in northern Israel, apparently late Thursday night.
the mosaic, dating from the Roman Byzantine period, measures 5 feet square and shows the Roman goddess Tyche with a crown on her head, holding a horn of plenty in her hand.
Experts have stated that the mosaic is one of the most impressive finds at the Beit She’an excavations.
Archaeologist Giora Soler of the Education Ministry’s antiquities section said the theft was revealed early morning and that it was a professional job.
“The thieves removed the goddess from the rest of the mosaic in a most professional way, and probably without damaging the mosaic,” Soler said. He said he believes the perpetrators were professional antiquities thieves and that the theft was well planned.
Soler said the value of the stolen mosaic cannot be estimated, “since it’s one of a kind in Israel and abroad.”
“I’m shocked by the sheer nerve of the thieves — to steal such a rare mosaic,” he said.
Archaeologist Gabi Mozer, manager of he Beit She’an site, said that there is no possibility of selling the mosaic in Israel. He said all seaports and airports have been notified to prevent the smuggling of the artifact out of the country.