The looted $ 1 million coin returned to Israel after years of hunting

The looted $ 1 million coin returned to Israel after years of hunting

It took nearly 20 years of dogged detective work and a trail that spanned continents before the $ 1 million missing relic case could be closed.

“A precious piece of history [is] finally returning home, “a US official said during a ceremony that marked the occasion.

That piece of history is a small silver coin full of symbolism, minted during a Jewish revolt nearly 2,000 years ago.

Looted in Israel in 2002, it was eventually tracked down, kidnapped and taken back to where it came from.

The saga began when the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) learned from informants that the coin had been taken by Palestinians from a treasure found in the Ella Valley, south of Jerusalem.

The IAA says it spent the next ten and a half years trying to locate the coin, which went through the illegal antiques markets in Israel, Jordan and the UK. It was eventually exported to the United States for sale at an auction in Denver, Colorado in 2017.

The IAA alerted US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which then took administrative custody of the coin. The investigation was passed to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU), which obtained a court order to repatriate the coin based on information from whistleblowers in five countries along with help from authorities. in Europe and the Middle East.

The coin was handed over Monday in a ceremony at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in the presence of US and Israeli officials, including Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan.

“Today we join our partners in returning an incredibly rare piece of Israel’s history, the quarter shekel coin, a symbol of independence from the time of the Roman presence in what is now modern Israel,” said the HSI agent Ricky J Patel at the rally.

The silver coin, embossed with Hebrew motifs, is one of only four coins of its kind known to exist. The IAA dated it to 69 AD, the fourth year of the Great Revolt.

The minting of such a coin was “in effect a declaration of independence of the Jews in the land of Israel, a declaration against the mighty empire that stood before them,” said Ilan Hadad of the IAA.

The Great Revolt saw a rebellion by Jews in Judea against oppressive Roman rule, which had ended Jewish independence there a century earlier.

The revolt culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the second Jewish temple by the Romans in 70 AD

Estimates put the number of Jews killed from hundreds of thousands to over a million.

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