Tried to steal 2,000-year-old lice comb

Gang of thieves arrested for looting Cave of Skulls in Israel, tried to steal 2,000-year-old lice comb

Updated

Thieves who allegedly looted a 2,000-year-old lice comb from a desert cave were caught red-handed by Israeli rescue teams out on a routine drill near the Dead Sea.

Officials said the gang targeted a site called the Cave of the Skulls, halfway down a towering cliff face in Israel’s Judean Desert.

They worked with lights, digging tools and metal detectors and they would have been hoping to find ancient texts and other artefacts left in the caves by Jewish rebels back in the days of the Roman Empire.

But the alleged thieves were arrested as they climbed back up the cliff.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said the thieves were detected by a rescue unit during a routine training

Among the loot they hoped to sell was a 2,000-year-old comb that was used to remove lice from people’s hair.

Court documents identified the suspects as six residents of the West Bank village of Seir, near the city of Hebron, according to local online newspaper The Times of Israel.

The IAA said the bust was the first of its kind in 30 years.

“Over the years many of the plundered finds reached the antiquities markets in Israel and abroad, but it has been decades since perpetrators were caught red-handed,” said Amir Ganor, director of the IAA’s unit for prevention of antiquities robbery.

“This is mainly due to the difficultly in detecting and catching them on the wild desert cliffs.”

ABC/BBC