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Antiquity robbers get caught in southern Israel



Daniel Esparza - published on 10/28/21

Local legends suggest that Be’er Kalech is the place where Ottoman-era gold caches were hidden, both during Ottoman rule and after the fall of the Empire.

Authorities in Israel caught a team of eight Bedouin “tomb raiders” while they were digging in an ancient well at Be’er Kalech, in southern Israel, in search of Ottoman gold, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Archaeological evidence has proven the site of Be’er Kalech was inhabited from the early Bronze Age up until the end of the Ottoman domination in December 1917, when British forces under the command of General Allenby entered Jerusalem. The site features ancient tombs, cisterns used to store water, and small caves once used as dovecotes.

Local legends suggest that Be’er Kalech is also the place where Ottoman-era gold caches were buried and hidden, both during Ottoman rule and after the fall of the Empire. Local authorities (the Israeli Antiquities Authority, IAA, in particular) explain that these legends keep on attracting antiquities looters who dig around the site, oftentimes causing irreparable damage to the ancient remains.

They suspects were transferred to a police station, since damaging antiquities in Israel is a criminal offense punishable with up to five years in prison.

Amir Ganor, the director of the IAA Robbery Prevention Unit, explained the Jerusalem Post that “unfortunately, some residents of the South tend to believe in ‘legends’ about Ottoman-era gold caches that exist in the southern region. We at the IAA have identified a growing trend in which squads of antiquities robbers go to archaeological sites equipped with excavation tools, look for hidden signs in the area, and dig deep pits while harming the heritage of all of us.”

You can read the full story here.

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