In the year 66 CE, the Jews in Roman Palestine rose up in revolt against the Roman occupation. Four years later , the Romans sacked Jerusalem, leveled the city, killed everyone inside, razed the Temple to the ground, and carted off the holy relics as spoils of war.

As demonstrated in a BAR article by Louis H. Feldman, a hidden inscription on the Colosseum itself suggests that the construction of the amphitheater was financed by the plundered booty from the Jewish Revolt.b Vespasian faced a serious deficit when he became emperor, but the spoils of war from Judea—the riches of the Temple treasury, the golden vessels from the Temple, the seized personal treasures of Jewish citizens and the sale of the Jewish captives themselves—provided enormous wealth for the emperor and the plundering army commanded by his son Titus. Thus did the conquest of Judea fund the most recognizable structure of imperial Rome.

These same plundered spoils of Judea are depicted prominently on another monument that still stands in Rome, which is the focus of exciting new research. The marble Arch of Titus was built in 81 C.E. by the emperor Domitian to commemorate the victory and triumphal parade of his brother Titus, the conquering army general, and Emperor Vespasian’s son and successor.

In the most famous of the panels, Roman soldiers carry the Jerusalem Temple spoils on parade, including the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets, which were then deposited in Rome’s Temple of Peace. This panel and the others were recently subjected to high-resolution three-dimensional scans, resulting in stunningly crisp, high-quality images of the relief that are accurate within less than a millimeter and are free from the distracting visual distortions of the marble’s age and discoloration.

In the most famous of the panels, Roman soldiers carry the Jerusalem Temple spoils on parade, including the menorah, the showbread table and trumpets, which were then deposited in Rome’s Temple of Peace. Courtesy Yeshiva University Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project.


Some people suggest that the relics were brought to the Vatican, where they still remain. I haven't seen any evidence for this claim, but it is at least possible.

Do we have any information about what happened to these relics?

  • You might also be interested in my old question: history.stackexchange.com/questions/6151/… Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 11:07
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    P.S. You might want to reword the title. It was not "stolen" but something like "plundered". Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 11:09
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    I suggest you leave out the bit about the Vatican and stick to the facts.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 13:58
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    @fdb - It is a fact that some people believe that the relics are in the Vatican.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 20:55
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    It's in my basement. Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 21:51

2 Answers 2


Well, the Menorah was seen later (according to one testimony):

Most likely, the menorah was looted by the Vandals in the sacking of Rome in 455 CE, and taken to their capital, Carthage. The Byzantine army under General Belisarius might have removed it in 533 and brought it to Constantinople. According to Procopius, it was carried through the streets of Constantinople during Belisarius' triumphal procession. Procopius adds that the object was later sent back to Jerusalem where there is no record of it, although it could have been destroyed when Jerusalem was pillaged by the Persians in 614.


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    FWIW, there wasn't a "Vatican" in the 6th century, just one papal palace in the area. The seat of the church would have been St. John Lateran, at least until the 1300s when the papacy moved to Avignon, France. On their return to Rome in 1377, they moved to the Vatican hill. So for the relics to have ended up in a Vatican collection, they'd have had to escape the Persian sack of Jerusalem, the Muslim sack of Jerusalem, the Crusader sack, the second Muslim sack, then somehow get to the Vatican without anyone mentioning them. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:20
  • @RobCrawford Did you comment on the wrong post? The quoted passage does not mention the Vatican.
    – Spencer
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 18:13

Yes, there was no “Vatican” back then. But, there was the home of Vespasian. It was upon his home where the Vatican was built.

There is more than one eye witness to validate that the Vatican of today still holds the ancient Jewish temple treasures.


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