Fearing End of World, Thief Returns 2,000-Year-Old Artifact After 15 Years

TEL AVIV -  An Israeli gave back a 2,000-year-old catapult bolt to the Israel Antiquities Authority some 15 years after he took off with it while visiting the archaeological site of the Jerusalem Walls National Park in the City of David, saying he wanted to clear his conscience before the end …

TEL AVIV –  An Israeli man returned a 2,000-year-old catapult bolt to the Israel Antiquities Authority some 15 years after he took off with it while visiting the archaeological site of the Jerusalem Walls National Park in the City of David, saying he wanted to clear his conscience before the end of the world.

“The time has come to clear my conscience. It feels that the end of the world is near,” the remorseful man said, according to an Israel Antiquities Authority press release on Monday.

The anonymous man didn’t return the artifact, also known as a ballista stone, directly but used a go-between, Moshe Manies, who agreed to keep his identity a secret.

Ballista stones from the City of David Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

The original theft occurred when two rebellious youths touring City of David site close to the Old City of Jerusalem came across the ballistae, which had been catapulted at fortifications, Manies said.

“One of the boys took one of the stones home. Meanwhile, he married and raised a family, and told me that for the past 15 years the stone has been weighing heavily on his heart,” Manies wrote in a Facebook post.

“And now, when he came across it while cleaning for Passover, together with the apocalyptic feeling that the coronavirus has generated, he felt it was time to clear his conscience, and he asked me to help him return it to the Israel Antiquities Authority,” Manies added.

Ballistae are a form of ancient weapons used in the besiege of cities. The stone would be mounted on the ballistae and catapulted onto forces standing on fortress walls, the IAA’s release said.

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