The world's earliest-known complete stone inscription of the Ten Commandments, described as a 'national treasure' of Israel, has sold at auction in Beverly Hills for $850,000 (£682,489).
Heritage Auctions said the 2ft (0.6m) square marble slab sold at a public auction of ancient Biblical archaeology artefacts.
The 4th century AD tablet weighs about 115lbs (52kg) and is inscribed in an early Hebrew script called Samaritan.
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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Honour thy father and thy mother
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Thou shalt not covet
The tablet likely adorned the entrance of a synagogue that was destroyed by the Romans between A.D. 400 and 600, or by the Crusaders in the 11th century, said David Michaels, Heritage Auctions director of ancient coins and antiquities.
The auction house said the Israeli Antiquities Authorities approved export of the piece to the US in 2005.
The only condition was that it must be displayed in a public museum.
'The sale of this tablet does not mean it will be hidden away from the public,' Michaels said.
'The new owner is under obligation to display the tablet for the benefit of the public.'
The 2ft (0.6m) by 2ft tablet was uncovered in 1913 during excavations for a railway station near Yavneh in Israel.
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