|Legend says it was given to a Knight Templar 1,000 years ago and handed down through that family from one generation to the next. Because this stone was one-of-a-kind, he appraised its value at $175 million to $225 million|
A small onyx stone believed to have been worn in the sacred breastplate of the High Priest of Jerusalem may have been found after being missing for more than 1,000 years.
A sardonyx gem, thought to have been one of two that were set in gold on each shoulder of the breastplate and deemed to be 'forms of divine communication', was discovered in South Africa.
The owner claims the stone was given to a distant ancestor as a reward from the High Priest in 1189 and has been passed from generation to generation of the family since.
Biblical text describes a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of Jerusalem that was fitted with 12 stones and used to determine God's will. The sardonyx could be one of two additional stones worn on the shoulders.
What makes this sardonyx so unique is it has a tiny Hebrew inscription, which is believed to be an ancient script that dates back to 1000 BC, burned or engraved in the heart of the stone. The letters in the stone appear to be similar to those found on archaeological finds dating from 1300 to 300 BC.
The Jewish text Talmud reveals that questions would be brought to the breastplate worn by the High Priest and the stones would light up to spell the answers.
The Jewish text, Talmund, reveals that questions would be brought to the breastplate worn by the High Priest and the stones would light up to spell the answers. Pictured is a concept drawing of the breastplate
Legend says it was given to a Knight Templar 1,000 years ago and handed down through that family from one generation to the next.
The stone was first discovered in 2000 and was investigated in person by Professor Moshe Sharon, an ancient Hebrew expert at the University of Witwatersrand who described the script as the equivalent to our 'B' and 'K'.
On examining the stone Professor Sharon was baffled to find there are no markings on the stone's surface to suggest it has been cut open to add the letters.
'Due to the clarity of the letters and their fine definition it would be incredible if they are a coincidental natural formation in the stone,' Professor Sharon stated in a notarized report at the time.
'The lack of any apparent sign of interference with the surface makes the existence of the letters inside the stone a real enigma.'
Now an expert who laid eyes on the mysterious gem 16 years ago is calling for a new appraisal in the hope of revealing its true history.
Dr. James Strange, a professor in religious studies and archaeology at Samford University in Alabama, traveled to South Africa in 2000 to appraise what was described as an interesting gemstone at the request of a friend. What he found left him puzzled.
THE SARDONYX GEM
Now he has told Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz with Breaking Israel News: 'I think this object needs a new appraisal and as many scientific tests as possible to determine whether it is genuine.
'If it turns out to be an artifact important to the history of the Jewish people, then that is truly wonderful.
'If it turns out to be a masterful fraud, then I will be pained that I was duped.'
Speaking of his trip in 2000, he said: 'I was unaware that anyone in the late Middle Ages had the technology to cut a hemisphere in such a medium, so I tried to exhaust all other explanations.
'There is no modern or ancient technology known to me by which an artisan could produce the inscription, as it is not cut into the surface of the stone.'
With no visible markings on the surface, Dr. Strange ruled out the idea that the stone was cut open.
After his examination, Dr. Strange concluded that the sardonyx had either been set in a large plate or breastplate and he also dated its creation to the 5th century BC.
What makes the sardonyx so unique is a tiny inscription (pictured is a drawing of the text) in the heart of the stone, which is believed to be an ancient script that dates back to 1000 BC. M. Experts says the script is the equivalent of our 'B' and 'K'
Pictured is a concept drawing of the breastplate, which was studded with gems and would light up to spell out answers when questions were put to it
Because this stone was one-of-a-kind, he appraised its value between $175 million to $225 million.
Ian Campbell who was the director of the Independent Coloured Stones Laboratory in Johannesburg and a leading South African gemologist, also confirmed that the stone had not been sliced open to add the inscription.
'How does one logically go about putting a value to something like a proven religious artifact that is a 'one of' article?'
He estimated that $200 million was a 'fair starting point'.
Now, the claims from 2000 have been confirmed by Breaking Israel News who spoke with Campbell's apprentice, Jeremy Rothon.
However, Dr. Strange still remembers the stone as if it was still sitting in his hand.
He noted that if it was a fake, another stone that was similar would have surfaced by now, and he is requesting a new appraisal.
The present owner is in contract with a South African businessman who is now searching for investors who are willing to purchase the stone and take it back to Israel – both parties wish to stay anonymous.
When the businessman laid eyes on this small stone, he immediately recognized that the sardonyx was an important piece of Jewish history and is determined to bring it home.