With the help of police in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was able to thwart of an illegal antique sale between tomb raiders and ancient artifact dealers -- arresting several suspects, last Friday, and confiscating eleven ossuaries, ancient stone coffins containing Jewish remains.
The ossuaries are from the Second Temple period, a segment of Jewish history that lasted from 530 BCE to 70 CE.
The burial boxes are engraved with a variety of Jewish symbols, including the lily flower, the six-petal rosette and other elements of Jewish art common during that period.
One of the ossuaries is inscribed with the name "Ralfin," a Hebraized form of an uncommon Roman name -- a unique find. Another ossuary features the name "Yo'azar" and a Greek inscription that could not be deciphered.
Officials with IAA's Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery teamed up with patrolmen from Jerusalem's Shefet police station in interrupting the attempted sale at the Hizma checkpoint north of Israel's capital. The perpetrators were arrested on the spot.
"There is no doubt that the ossuaries were recently looted from a magnificent burial cave in Jerusalem," said Dr. Eitan Klein, the deputy director of IAA. "Remnants of paint remained on top of the ossuaries and the containers themselves belong to the group of 'magnificent Jerusalem' ossuaries that were manufactured in the city in antiquity."
[Israel Antiquities Authority]