An Israeli man has returned a 2,000-year-old artefact he stole 15 years ago after suffering a crisis of conscience as he fears the world is about to end in the coronavirus pandemic.
The man, who has not been named, had reportedly stolen the ancient projectile from the City of David National Park near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in Israel whilst touring the park 15 years ago with a friend.
The stone, which is reportedly around the size of a bowling ball, was reportedly used as a projectile for a ballista and was on display in the park when the man stole it.
He returned the artefact through an intermediary named Moshe Manies, who said he would not release the man’s name.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a press release that the thief said: “The time has come to clear my conscience. It feels that the end of the world is near.”
Intermediary Manies said on social that the stone had been “weighing heavily” on the man’s heart for 15 years and that with the “apocalyptic feeling the coronavirus generated” he had decided to clear his conscience.
The man has reportedly married and had children since stealing the stone.
Ballistae were used to besiege cities, hurling stones and bolts at fortifications to force defending forces to flee, according to IAA archaeologist Dr Yuval Baruch.
He added: “The ballista stones which were uncovered at the City of David are most likely connected to the harsh battles between the besieged residents of Jerusalem and the soldiers of the Roman Legion, from around 70 CE – the year of the destruction of Jerusalem.”
It is unclear if an investigation into the incident will be launched,
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