A cache of 232 ancient coins was recovered from the house of a known antiquities thief in Kfar Kana last week by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Theft Prevention Unit.
The trove of coins includes samples from the 5th century BCE Persian period, to the later Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, and to the early Ottoman period in the circa 16th century. The coins will now undergo testing and study at the IAA.
Inspector Nir Distelfeld told The Times of Israel on Monday that he recently spotted the repeat offender with a metal detector in the field and recognized him from two previous occasions in which he had been caught and fined for illegally excavating ancient coins.
“He was sentenced and fined,” said Distelfeld, “but not enough, because he keeps coming back.”
The suspect ran off from the archaeological site in Israel’s northern Galilee after Distelfeld’s identification. Last week, however, the IAA’s Theft Prevention Unit received permission to search the Kfar Kana house and the suspect was again apprehended. According to an IAA press release, he was arrested and questioned at the police station and in the next few days the case will be handed over for indictment.
Distelfeld said the unit deals with some 300 antiquities robberies a year, an increasing number of which are related to the growing use of metal detectors. The thieves are ruining countless unstudied archaeological sites by wantonly digging up the coins and making future scientific work impossible.
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