JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli police seized a 2,000-year-old Hebrew scroll from two Palestinians.
The men were arrested Tuesday for trying to illegally sell the valuable antiquity.
The Hebrew document, written on papyrus and measuring about 6 inches by 6 inches, was seized in an operation led by the Intelligence Office of the Zion Region and the undercover unit of the Border Police in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and the archaeological staff officer in the Civil Administration.
The document is written in ancient Hebrew script, which is characteristic of the Second Temple period and shortly after, and is primarily known from the Dead Sea Scrolls and inscriptions found on ossuaries and coffins. The document is dated with the sentence “Year 4 to the destruction of Israel.”
"What we have here is rare historic evidence about the Jewish people in their country from more than 2,000 years ago, during the days following the destruction which sent the people of Israel into exile for a very long time — until the creation of the State of Israel,” said Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority.
"We are dealing with a document that appears to be ancient as defined by the antiquities law. Since this object was not discovered in a proper archaeological excavation, it still must undergo laboratory analyses in order to negate the possibility it is a modern forgery,” he said.
Ganor added, “The document is very important from the standpoint of historical and national research. Until now almost no historic scrolls or documents from this period have been discovered in proper archaeological excavations. A historic document that can be definitely dated based on a reference to a historical event such as the ‘destruction of Israel’ has never been discovered."