US 'treasure hunter' arrested in Jerusalem cave

Tourist apparently suffering 'Jerusalem syndrome' found after illegally spending a night in Zedekiah's Cave to dig for ancient treasure.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Gold treasure and relics (illustration)
Gold treasure and relics (illustration)

A US tourist has been arrested after spending a night in a cave below Jerusalem's Old City in what may have been a search for ancient buried treasure, police and media reports said Tuesday.

The tourist was found on Friday after spending the night in Zedekiah's Cave, also known as Solomon's Quarries, a 20,000-square-meter area beneath what has come to be known as the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

Haaretz reported that the 19-year-old tourist, who was not identified, hid inside the site at closing time on Thursday before digging in different areas of the cave.

Several worthless limestone rocks were found in his backpack, police said.

Haaretz reported that the odd expedition may have been linked to "Jerusalem Syndrome" - the name given to what some tourists experience when they are overwhelmed while visiting the Holy Land due to its religious significance.

Zedekiah's Cave is the remnant of what was once the largest quarry in Jerusalem, dating back at least to the Second Temple period, from the sixth century BCE to the first century CE.

Several stories are associated with the site, including treasure supposedly buried there.

Jewish tradition teaches that King Zedekiah sought to escape through it during the destruction of the First Jewish Temple in 586 BCE by the occupying Babylonian army.

Much later it was used by Freemasons as a ceremonial site.

AFP contributed to this report.