American Tourist Smashed Roman Artifacts at the Israel Museum

American Tourist Smashed Second-Century Roman Artifacts to the Floor at Jerusalem's Israel Museum, After Which Guards Caught Him.

Oct 9, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
American Tourist
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Via Olga Levin


American tourist man got inside the archaeology division of Jerusalem’s Israel Museum and broke Roman artifacts to the floor. Could there be any religious reasons for his actions? Amid the ongoing conflict between the state of Israel and Palestine, this is hard to ignore. His actions also raise questions about the collection’s security. Nevertheless, after committing the act, the guards caught him and surrendered him to the authorities.


American Tourist Suffers From a Jerusalem Syndrome?

American Tourist
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Via Kate Michaels


The police managed to determine the identity of the American man who broke pieces as a 40-year-old Jewish American visitor. He was also wearing a religious outfit. The authorities also decided not to reveal his name until a mental assessment came to an end. What were his reasons for breaking the pieces? While being questioned, he said he destroyed them because they were “idolatrous and contrary to the Torah”.


According to reports, the suspect’s attorney rejected that his client had “religious fanaticism” as a driving force. He allegedly claimed he was afflicted with a mental condition known as “Jerusalem syndrome”. What is Jerusalem Syndrome? The British Journal of Psychiatry says it is “a s a psychotic state that manifests in religious pilgrims as delusions of grandeur and obsessive ideas”.


Kkee angelus novus
Angelus Novus by Paul Klee, 1920, via The Israel Museum.


It’s a somewhat contentious assessment. Also, it’s virtually always identified in people who already have mental illnesses. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia. The reason the police arrived at the scene was “deliberately smashing and breaking statues of great value”. He also inflicted “great damage”, as police said.

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Hostility Between Christians and Jews

wilderness of zin biblical archaeology
Wilderness of Zin, via CBN Israel


The suspect believes the statues are “blasphemous”. The second of the Ten Commandments states that “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”. In an explanation, the Israel Museum called the vandalism a “troubling and unusual event”. Also, it “condemns all forms of violence and hopes such incidents will not recur”.


“This is a shocking case of the destruction of cultural values”, Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority said. “We see with concern the fact that religiously motivated extremists are destroying cultural values “, he also added. When it comes to the Jerusalem syndrome, it appears also when tourists and religious pilgrims visit the city. Also, when start to develop excessive theological thoughts.


statue ephesian artemis israelmuseum jerusalem
Statue of the Ephesian Artemis, 2nd century CE, via the Israel Museum Je


Both harmed works of art date to the 2nd century C.E. The first was Head of Athena. The second was Griffin grasping Nemesis’s wheel of fate. It is a representation of the Roman goddess of vengeance and destiny. The destruction at the museum is merely the most recent of numerous assaults on the city’s cultural assets. This increases hostility between the Christian minority and the Jewish majority.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.