Oct. 11, 2006 11:02 | Updated Oct. 17, 2006 10:06
Buried treasure

What happened to the 50 tons of gold, silver and sacred treasures looted from Herod’s Temple following the Roman legionnaires’ sack of Jerusalem on Tisha Be’av in the year 70 CE?

The Arch of Titus in Rome, erected shortly after the death of Titus who reigned as emperor from 79 to 81, clearly depicts Roman soldiers bearing on their shoulders the golden candelabrum, silver trumpets and bejeweled Table of the Divine Presence which the Roman emperor Vespasian and his son Titus carted back to Rome as trophies of war. Between 75 CE and the early fifth century, the treasure remained on public display in the Temple of Peace in Rome’s Forum.

Many Jews believe – almost as an article of faith – that the Temple artifacts remain there in Rome, secreted away in vaults beneath the Vatican.

But in a newly published book, British historian Sean Kingsley, basing himself on untapped historical texts and new archeological sources, argues that the treasures were removed from Rome after the Vandal invasion of 455 CE. Kingsley, whose book, God’s Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem, was released October 5 by John Murray, says that the loot was first taken to Carthage in Tunisia, then to Hippo Regius in Algeria, and on to Constantinople – today known as Istanbul, Turkey. The spoils, he claims, were finally returned to the Holy Land in the mid-sixth century where they were ultimately hidden in the Judean wilderness, beneath the remote Monastery of St. Theodosius 12 km. east of Bethlehem.

It’s a plausible argument that has almost messianic implications. If the Temple treasures were retrieved, the discovery could lead to the actual rebuilding of the Temple, the resumption of biblical sacrifice – and the coming of the Messiah.


"The Temple treasure remains a deadly political tool in the volatile Arab-Israeli conflict centered 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."