Israeli archaeologists recently made two sensational finds, one thanks to the work of the police.
Earlier in the week, Israeli police publicized the recent arrest of tomb raiders who had stolen 11 coffin boxes dating back to the time of Jesus. The coffins were from the Jerusalem area.
Meanwhile, in the southern Negev region, an ancient Byzantine-era monastery was discovered together with its ornate and intricate mosaic floor (pictured).
The recovered "bone boxes," which were found by police during a raid on the home of an antiques dealer long suspected of trading in stolen goods, are believed to have been used for the burial of nobles and prominent citizens living in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the boxes were presumably stolen from a cave near Jerusalem, a practice that is not all that uncommon in a land overflowing with historical artifacts.
The discover of the Negev monastery was completely unexpected, coming during routine archaeological checks in preparation for road construction.
Israeli experts believe the monastery is the remains of the Byzantine city of Horvat Hora. The mosaic floor is believed to be part of a large communal prayer room. Numerous pieces of pottery and coins were also found, indicating an affluent local citizenry.
Israel's Antiquities Authority plans to rebuild parts of the monastery and open the site to the public in the near future.