Armed only with a bucket and spade, an industrious East Jerusalem householder excavated five ancient rooms under his East Jerusalem house, finding gold coins and many other archeological treasures, all of which he sold to dealers.
The 34-year-old resident of the Christian Quarter was arrested last week and is expected to be charged with selling antiques illegally and carrying out an archeological dig without permission.
The man admitted selling his findings to dealers in the Old City. When the police raided his home, they found only broken shards of pottery and two large jars.
Shay Bar-Tura, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that the arrest emphasised the fact that the entire Old City is built above ancient buildings, homes and burial caves.
“I don’t remember ever seeing such a serious mole,” he said, “we are used to residents trying to expand their homes by digging downwards but this is on a totally different scale. He caused irreparable damage.”