Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Temple menorah among Alaric's treasures?

THOSE TEMPLE TREASURES AGAIN: Italy to dig for ancient Roman treasure sought by Nazis. Haul from tomb of Alaric, king of the Visigoths who sacked Rome, thought to include gold, silver and priceless Menorah looted from Second Temple (Nick Squires, The Telegraph).
Italian archaeologists are to start excavations in search of a fabled cache of ancient Roman treasure which, according to legend, was buried alongside the Gothic king who sacked the city in the 5th century.

The body of Alaric, king of the Visigoths, is said to have been buried at the confluence of two rivers in Cosenza, southern Italy, alongside tonnes of silver and gold, even the priceless Menorah that the Romans looted from the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.

The story of the lost treasure fascinated Hitler, who sent Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS, and a team of Nazi archaeologists to try to find the hidden loot.

They failed, as had many others before them. Now there is a fresh effort to find the legendary loot.

This is an interesting story with Indiana Jones resonances, including foiled, rapacious Nazis. But some caution is called for. The enthusiastic account of Alaric's treasures seems to come from the mayor of Cosenza. An archaeologist was more reserved:
But others are less sure that the treasure exists – or ever existed.

“We need to be cautious,” Pietro De Leo, a medieval historian from Calabria University, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “There are few doubts that the king of the Goths was buried in Cosenza. But I don’t believe there was an immense treasure.”
The excavation of Alaric's tomb would be very important, and the search for it seems to be the real archaeological story. Whether vast treasures or the Temple menorah show up in the tomb remains to be seen. As usual, I am not holding my breath.

Past posts on the Temple menorah and notions about where it might be now are collected here.