Stolen ancient Roman missile returned by sorry thief who fears coronavirus has brought 'end of world' near

A THIEF has returned an ancient Roman missile that he stole from a site in Jerusalem 15 years ago.

Coronavirus apparently inspired the man to do the right thing.

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According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the coronavirus outbreak has caused the culprit to think “the end of the world is near”.

The Romans used objects exactly like the 2,000-year-old round stone as missiles that they could fire from a projecting weapon known as a “ballista”.

The thief is now 30 and is said to have taken the heavy ballista stone from the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said: "The Israel Antiquities Authority heard about the repentance of this anonymous person via a post on Facebook by Moshe Manies.

It continued: "The person who took upon himself to be the go-between, to return the stone to the State Treasury without divulging the identity of the thief."

Manies said in a statement: "It involved two ‘shababniks’ (rebellious youth), who, 15 years earlier, toured at the City of David site and came across a display of ballista stones, which were catapulted at fortifications.

"One of the boys took one of the stones home.

"Meanwhile, he married and raised a family, and told me that for the past 15 years the stone is weighing heavily on his heart.

"And now, when he came across it while cleaning for Passover, together with the apocalyptic feeling the coronavirus generated, he felt the time was ripe to clear his conscience, and he asked me to help him return it to the Israel Antiquities Authority."

It's likely that the ballista stones in the City of David likely date back to the Roman siege of Jerusalem thought to have occurred around 70AD.

Uzi Rotstein, Inspector at the Antiquities Robbery Prevention Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: "The ballista stones which were uncovered at the City of David are most likely connected to the harsh battles between the besieged residents of Jerusalem and the soldiers of the Roman Legion, from around 70 CE – the year of the destruction of Jerusalem."

A brief history of the Roman Empire

Here's what you need to know…

  • The Roman Empire began shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic in the 6th century BC
  • It reigned for around a thousand years until the fall of the last Western emperor in 476 AD
  • During this time, the Romans ruled over many countries in Europe and parts of Africa and the Middle East
  • At its height, 90 million people lived in the Roman Empire
  • It evolved from a monarchy to a democratic republic to a military dictatorship and then was finally ruled by emperors
  • One of the most well-known Roman leaders is Julius Caesar, famously assassinated in 44BC
  • He is largely credited for his military mind and laying the foundations for the Roman Empire
  • The spread of the Roman Empire into Britain in around 55 BC has had a lasting impact on our lives today
  • Latin, straight roads, underfloor heating and the spread of Christianity are all attributed to the Romans

In other archaeology news, a mysterious ring of mammoth bones built by our ancient ancestors has left scientists puzzled.

A US museum's prized collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments are fakes, according to experts.

And, ancient Roman used amulets shaped like flying penises to ward off bad luck and illness.

What do you think of the thief returning the ancient Roman missile? Let us know in the comments…

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