Tag Archives: menorah

Archaeologists find rare writing, and then it vanishes


Inscriptions on the walls of the ritual bath. (Shai Halevy, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists digging for ruins ahead of a new construction project in Jerusalem made an incredible discovery—that immediately began to vanish. During the last hours of a “salvage excavation” two months ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old ritual bath when a stone suddenly disappeared into a black hole, reports Haaretz.

That hole turned out to be the remains of the bath, accessible by a stone staircase, which includes an anteroom with benches and a winepress. Carved into a natural stone cave, the bath itself wasn’t so unusual, but the graffiti that covered the plaster walls was.

Archaeologists were therefore horrified to find the Aramaic inscriptions and paintings in mud and soot, dating to the Second Temple era from 530BC to 70AD, per Discovery News, disappearing within hours of their discovery.

“The wall paintings are so sensitive that their exposure to the air causes damage to them,” the IAA says, per Ynetnews. Crews quickly removed and sealed the plaster so the graffiti, along with a few carvings, can be preserved.

Archaeologists say the Aramaic inscriptions are particularly special as few such writings have been found, though the script is hardly legible now. They guess at a few words, including what translates to “served” and the name “Cohen.” Still, the inscriptions back up the argument that Aramaic was commonly used at the time and perhaps even the language of Jesus.

The plaster also holds drawings of a boat, palm trees and other plants, and what might be a menorah—portrayals of which were then considered taboo. An IAA rep says graffiti in baths may have been “common, but not usually preserved.” (Another recent find: the remnants of a “treasured landmark” destroyed by the Nazis.)

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Israeli archaeologist uncovers ancient treasure trove

Israeli archaeologist uncovers ancient treasure trove

Published September 09, 2013

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    A 10-cm gold medallion discovered in Hebrew University excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Etched into the medallion are a menorah (Temple candelabrum), shofar (rams horn) and Torah scroll. (Ouria Tadmor/Hebrew University)

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    A few of the thirty-six gold coins found by Israeli Archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (HebrewUniversity/Youtube)

JERUSALEM –  An Israeli archaeologist says she has uncovered a rare trove of ancient gold coins and medallions near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Eilat Mazar of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University says among the finds are jewelry and a gold medallion with the Jewish menorah symbol etched into it. Other findings include items with additional Jewish symbols such as a ram’s horn and a Torah scroll.

“I have never found so much gold in my life!” Mazar said at a press conference on Mount Scopus, the Times of Israel reported. “I was frozen. It was unexpected.”

Excavators uncovered a total of 36 gold coins marked with images of Byzantine emperors ranging 250 years from Constantine II to Mauricius. The Byzantine Empire ruled over Israel until Muslim leader Umar ibn Khattab conquered the city in 634.

Mazar said the treasure, which can be dated back to the seventh century, was discovered in a ruined Byzantine public structure a mere 50 meters from the southern wall of the hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount — where the two biblical Jewish Temples once stood.

The site is also considered holy by Muslims who call it the Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.

At the same site, Mazar in July uncovered a 3,000-year-old inscribed piece of an earthenware jug dating back to the time of King David.

The ancient inscription is the earliest alphabetical written text ever found in Jerusalem, dating to the 10th century B.C. It is engraved on a large “pithos,” a type of ceramic jar, along with six others at the excavation site.

The inscription is written in the Canaanite language, which was spoken by a Biblical people who lived in the present-day Israel, and is the only of its kind to be found in Israel. The artifact predates the previously oldest inscription found in the area by 250 years and predates the Biblical Israelites’ rule.

Reading from left to right, the text is composed of a combination of letters that translate to m, q, p, h, n, (possibly) l, and n and have no known meaning in west-Semitic languages.

The meaning of the text remains a mystery but Mazar suspects it relates to the jar’s contents or the name of its owner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/09/israeli-archaeologist-uncovers-ancient-treasure-trove/?intcmp=obinsite#ixzz2ej6PZ6bX


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