Ancient Roman vase is fixed, but who broke it?
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Ancient Roman vase is fixed, but who broke it?

After claiming girl accidentally smashed 2,000-year-old glass treasure, Israel Museum now says cause of mishap unknown

Blown-glass kantharos on flaring foot Italy, 1st century CE from the Belfer Collection (photo credit: © The Israel Museum Jerusalem, Elie Posner)
Blown-glass kantharos on flaring foot Italy, 1st century CE from the Belfer Collection (photo credit: © The Israel Museum Jerusalem, Elie Posner)

Jerusalem’s Israel Museum has changed its account of the circumstances surrounding the breaking of an ancient vase after initially saying a young girl accidentally shattered it.

The museum now says the cause of the mishap is unclear.

Israel Museum official Ran Lior said a girl inadvertently bumped into the display case holding the 2,000-year-old glass artifact on Sunday, causing it to fall and break. He declined to identify her at the time.

On Wednesday, the museum’s deputy director Zach Granit said that security camera footage showed a girl passing by the display, but it was unclear whether she actually stumbled into it or whether the item broke some other way.

The museum refused to allow The Associated Press to watch the security camera footage. It also refused to allow a photo of the artifact to be taken. When asked why the museum had changed its account, Lior said he did not know all the relevant information when he spoke.

Lior said the item, a gold-glass base of a 4th century Roman funerary vessel, broke along a previously repaired crack. He said the museum has restored the item and returned it to the display. The artifact includes a Latin inscription and a depiction of a Christian couple with their children.

It is one of some 300 ancient Roman and Near Eastern artifacts donated to the museum this year by Robert and Renee Belfer. The artifacts are on public display for the first time.

The glass vessel was sent for repairs in the museum laboratory, where the museum said it was made to look better than before.

“It would require a great effort to notice the crack with the naked eye,” the museum said.

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