Israeli Civil Administration Returns Rare Archaeological Relic
In a unique operation that was carried out near dawn Monday morning, staff of the Civil Administration’s Archaeological Unit, together with the Bethlehem District Coordination and Liaison Office and protected by the Etzion Regional Brigade, returned a unique archaeological relic that had been stolen from the Tel Tekoa archaeological site in the Bethlehem area some 20 years ago by antiquities thieves.
In this operation, which was part of the broader activity led by the Civil Administration for the purpose of returning archaeological relics and eliminating antiquities theft from the West Bank, a baptismal font from the fifth century CE, in the Byzantine period, was returned. The baptismal font is made of stone. It is 1.5 meters high, octagonal, and decorated with a cross and a stylized garland. The font served the Christian population in traditional baptisms that were held in the local church.
In recent years, the Civil Administration’s Archaeological Unit invested great efforts in locating the relic by means of advanced technology.
The head of the Antiquities Unit at the Civil Administration, Hananya Hizmi, said, “I welcome the return of the baptismal font, which is a cultural and historical treasure from the Byzantine period. The Civil Administration’s heavy investment of effort and resources in the search over recent years for this item has borne fruit. We will continue working tirelessly to preserve the sites and the archaeological relics throughout Judea and Samaria, and to prevent antiquities thieves from looting the history of the region.”
The head of the Archaeology Unit at the Civil Administration, said, “This is an important and exciting moment. We have succeeded in returning a unique archaeological relic after years of searching.”