To fight off evil spirits, bowls containing magical inscriptions were buried beneath the flooring of ancient Mesopotamian homes. In the unusual chance that this succeeded, the advantages appear to have worn off over the decades, since a significant collection of these bowls has now been discovered, and the holder faces accusations that might result in lengthy prison sentences. The excavation also included ancient coins, glassware, and weaponry. Recovering ancient relics is a difficult task. Rare and exquisite things can command a high price, and many purchasers are unconcerned about buying them from their lawful owners.
Indeed, the subject of who those owners are is sometimes disputed, as seen by many countries’ protracted struggle to reclaim the contents of their museums from former colonial powers. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) maintains a separate Robbery Prevention Unit to deal with antiquities taken by those who don’t understand the notion of ownership beyond “finder keepers.” The team recently carried out a combined operation with the Lev HaBira police and returned with a significant haul.
Several “Swearing Bowls” dating from the 4th-8th century CE in what is now Iraq were discovered in an individual’s home by the IAA. Some people earned a profession composing individualized messages to ward off curses, demons, and other believed threats at a period when reading was scarce. A depiction of a “night” demon – the fear the household sought protection against – may be found on one of the bowls seized during the search.
“Thousands of stolen ‘incantation bowls’ began to infiltrate international trade markets in 2003, following the Iraq war,” the Authority’s Amir Ganor stated in a statement to IFLScience. The inhabitant of the residence has yet to be tried, but he may have a credible explanation for why he has so many of these miraculous bowls. The Authority, on the other hand, claims that he not only obtained them unlawfully, but also that he repaired them in order to sell them.
Possession of stolen goods and failing to notify the finding of antiquities are two offenses that might be brought against you. Ancient coins, geometric decorations in a style associated with northern Israel in Biblical times, and Phoenician style bone and ivory objects were also discovered there.
The Authority also expects that records recovered at the residence will help them figure out who acquired the products, potentially exposing a much larger network. “We all have rights to antiquities. “They are our heritage,” said Eli Eskosido, the Authority’s director. “Looters are encouraged to ruin historic monuments in quest of items to sell on the antiquities market by unlicensed antiquities merchants. They pillage ancient sites in the sake of profit, taking the discoveries from their historical context and thereby concealing aspects of human history.”
The Authority, on the other hand, is subjected to a great deal of criticism. The United States has coordinated the repatriation of unlawfully obtained pieces from billionaire Michael Steinhardt’s collection to their countries of origin. Some of the 40 objects returned to Israel, however, are said to have originated in the West Bank, angering Palestinian authorities who have yet to receive any returns.
Israel’s unwillingness to join the UNESCO agreement against the illicit trade in antiquities has been blamed for the country’s reputation as a black market hotspot. The house where the artifacts were discovered located in Ramat Shlomo, an area taken during the six-day war and considered part of Jerusalem by Israel, but largely regarded as an illegal settlement on occupied ground by Palestinians.