Archaeologist claims Jerusalem treasure mystery solved
A British archaeologist claims to have proved that, contrary to long-held rumours, the Vatican does not hold in its vaults biblical treasure looted by the Romans from the Temple of Jerusalem.
Times Online reports that a specialist on the Holy Land, Sean Kingsley, claims to have traced the historical route of the collection, which is widely regarded as the greatest of biblical treasures and includes silver trumpets that were meant to herald the Coming of the Messiah.
The trumpets, gold candelabra and the bejewelled Table of the Divine Presence were among pieces shipped to Rome after the looting in AD70 of the Temple, the most sacred building for the Jewish faith.
After a decade of research into previously untapped ancient texts and archaeological sources, Dr Kingsley has reconstructed the treasure's route for the first time in 2,000 years to provide evidence that it left Rome in the 5th century.
Dr Kingsley, whose book God's Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem will be published early next month, says that the treasure was taken to Carthage, Constantinople and Algeria before being hidden in the Judaean wilderness, beneath the Monastery of Theodosius.
According to Dr Kingsley, "the treasure resonates fiercely across modern politics. Since the mid-1990s, a heated political wrangle has been simmering between the Vatican and Israel, which has accused the papacy of imprisoning the treasure.
"The Temple treasure remains a deadly political tool in the volatile Arab-Israeli conflict centred on the Temple Mount [the site of the Jewish Temple and the Muslim Dome of the Rock].
"The treasure's final hiding place - in the modern West Bank ... deep in Hamas territory - will rock world religions."
Emperor Vespasian ordered the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem after a Jewish revolt and Roman forces took about 50 tons of gold, silver and precious art to Rome.
The Arch of Titus, built a decade later, depicts Roman soldiers bearing the sacred spoils on their shoulders. The Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and dispersed throughout the world.
Between AD75 and the early 5th century, the treasure was on public display in the Temple of Peace in the Forum, in Rome.
The Vatican has told Dr Kingsley that there is no evidence in its archives that the treasure resided in Rome from the medieval period onwards.
He said: "One thing is for sure - it is not imprisoned deep in Vatican City. I am the first person to prove that the Temple treasures no longer languish in Rome."
Treasures looted by Rome 'are back in the Holy Land' (Times Online, 25/9/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Temple of Jerusalem (Wikipedia)
Sean Kingsley, God's Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem (Amazon.com)
26 Sep 2006