An inspector from the Antiquities Authority inside the plundered caves..
(photo credit: COURTESY OF IAA)
A 2,000-year-old labyrinth of caves dating to the Roman period discovered beneath the home of a Lower Galilee family was recently plundered by antiquities thieves, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
Located in the village of Eilabun, which was a Jewish settlement during the Roman occupation, the caves once led to a subterranean storage facility and stable used for hundreds of years. The site contained animal troughs and fragments of water basins, cooking pots and storage vessels.
During a routine inspection of the caves over the weekend, the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit said the thieves looted several relics and destroyed others.
“Unfortunately, the destructive [looting] in the cave was extensive,” the IAA said in a statement.
Following a joint investigation carried out Monday by the IAA, Border Police and Tiberias police, two unidentified residents of the village were detained on suspicion of carrying out illegal excavations.
“The suspects were detained at the Tiberias police station, confessed and held in custody until they paid bond,” the IAA said, noting that an indictment against them will be filed in the coming days.
“It is sad that in the name of making money people destroy and damage antiquities, and prevent the general public from enjoying the national heritage that belongs to all of us,” the Authority added.