Serah bat Asher cemetery (Kipala, Wikimedia Commons) (Kipala, Wikimedia Commons)
Serah bat Asher cemetery

Ancient inscriptions stolen from a Jewish shrine in Iran last summer were recently found and returned to their original location.

By United With Israel Staff

Two ancient Jewish inscriptions stolen last year from the Esther Khatoon historical site in Iran were discovered and returned to the Jewish shrine, the Islamic Republic’s official news agency reported.

Officials found the artifacts in the city of Falavarjan in Isfahan Province, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of Tehran, the Jerusalem Post reported, quoting an IRNA news agency report.

Iranian police were assisted by officials from the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Organization, an education and research institution overseeing numerous associated museums and historical sites throughout Iran.

Cultural Heritage spokesperson Shahram Amiri said the two ancient stones had inscriptions in both Hebrew and Persian, adding that the Hebrew inscription is around 1,000 years old and the Persian one is only 400 years old.

Amiri said that while the theft was reported last summer, the stolen items were only found 10 days ago. He told IRNA the thieves had been sitting on the stolen goods waiting for a proper time to sell the ancient stones.

The ancient site, located in nearby Pir Bakran, contains an ancient Jewish cemetery dating back almost 2000 years with a mausoleum holding the the tomb attributed to the biblical Serah bat Asher – the daughter of Asher, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. Jews have made pilgrimage to the cemetery for centuries.

The return of the stolen goods comes a few days after the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai, revered as the holiest Jewish site in Iran, was sabotaged by attempted arson. Believed to hold the remains of the biblical Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai who are celebrated each year on the holiday of Purim, that tomb is located in Hamedan, some 375 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of the site from where the inscriptions were stolen.

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