Jordan fights Israeli Bedouin over ancient texts

An Israeli Bedouin man is battling the Jordanian authorities over allegations that he smuggled a collection of rare religious texts out of Jordan.

The 70 lead plates date back two millennia and have been described by experts as “as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls”. They are inscribed with symbols of what could be among the earliest example of Christian writing.

Hassan Saeda, from the northern Israeli village of Um-al-Ghanam, claims that they have been in his family for a century.

However Jordan argues the texts were found in a cave five years ago. The government has pledged to "exert all efforts" to get them back.

Last updated: 1:30pm, March 29 2011