A stone, which dates back 1,200 years to the Jerusalem’s rule under the Muslim Umayyad dynasty, has been returned to Israel by a tourist from New York who stole it 12 years ago.
The 21-kilogram stone, a fragment of a marble column, was probably part of the official palace complex of the Umayyad Caliphs, the Muslim rulers who built the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque during their rule from 660 to 750. The stone was returned in a wooden crate. The unidentified person said he regretted the theft and decided to send it back to Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The stone was “discovered during the excavation of one of the Umayyad buildings located south of the Temple Mount,” Yuval Baruch, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in an e-mailed statement. “These are four very large structures that extended over an area of 200 dunams (49 acres), which were probably the official palace complex of the Umayyad caliphs about 1,200 years ago.”