Recently, a tourist from the United States was arrested in Israel after causing severe damage to two ancient Roman sculptures dating back to the second century C.E.
The incident took place at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Images captured at the crime scene showed the statues lying in several broken pieces on the floor after their pedestals were knocked over.
One of the sculptures was a marble head of Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and war. It was discovered in Tel Naharon, Israel, in 1978. The marble head was thought to have been part of a larger statue that towered over eight feet in height.
The other sculpture was of a mythological creature called the griffin, which had the head and wings of an eagle and the hind legs of a lion.
The griffin held a wheel of fate that represented the Roman god Nemesis. The artifact was found in 1957 in the Negev Desert, located in southern Israel.
The suspect was identified as a 40-year-old Jewish-American man. His name has not yet been released to the public.
After being taken into custody and questioned by police, they determined that he had destroyed the statues because he viewed them as “idolatrous” and “contrary to the Torah.”
Nick Kaufman, the man’s lawyer, argued that his client’s actions were not motivated by “religious fanaticism.” Instead, Kaufman claimed that the tourist was suffering from a mental health condition that psychiatrists have labeled as “Jerusalem syndrome.”
The unique condition is believed to occur in tourists and foreign pilgrims who visit Jerusalem, a city that is considered sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Jerusalem syndrome makes individuals think that they are biblical figures.