The IAA announced today that discovery if the five-branched menorah etching (one left) and a Roman iron sword (below) were discovered near the City of David. A few years back archaeologists discovered massive staircase leading from the first century C.E. pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount. The understanding of this staircase was that it would have been used by pilgrims who after cleansing themselves in the pool would have literally “went up” to the Temple, though the exact nature of the pool is still debated. In Feb (2011), under this staircase a drainage tunnel was discovered that the archaeologist believed were used by the people to hide during Rome’s razing of the Temple in 70 C.E. Now on the eve of Tisha b’Av (one of the saddest days on the Jewish calendar), when the destructions of the first two Temples are commemorated, a bit more light is shed on that tumultuous period of time.
During the course of work the Israel Antiquities Authority carried out in Jerusalem’s ancient drainage channel, which begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden (near the Western Wall), impressive finds were recently discovered that breathe new life into the story of the destruction of the Second Temple. The excavations are being conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and are underwritten by the City of David Foundation.
A 2,000 year old iron sword, still in its leather scabbard, was discovered in work the Israel Antiquities Authority is doing in the channel, which served as a hiding refuge for the residents of Jerusalem from the Romans at the time of the Second Temple’s destruction. In addition, parts of the belt that carried the sword were found. According to the excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, “It seems that the sword belonged to an infantryman of the Roman garrison stationed in Israel at the outbreak of the Great Revolt against the Romans in 66 CE. The sword’s fine state of preservation is surprising: not only its length (c. 60 cm), but also the preservation of the leather scabbard (a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time) and some of its decoration”.
A stone object adorned with a rare engraving of a menorah was found in the soil beneath the street, on the side of the drainage channel. According to Shukron and Professor Reich, “Interestingly, even though we are dealing with a depiction of the seven-branched candelabrum, only five branches appear here. The portrayal of the menorah’s base is extremely important because it clarifies what the base of the original menorah looked like, which was apparently tripod shaped”. The fact that the stone object was found at the closest proximity to the Temple Mount to date is also important. The researchers suppose a passerby who saw the menorah with his own eyes and was amazed by its beauty incised his impressions on a stone and afterwards tossed his scrawling to the side of the road, without imagining that his creation would be found 2,000 years later.
See other reports:
Artifacts breathe new life into the destruction of the Temple (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli archaeologists present Roman artifacts found in Jerusalem tunnel (Ha’aretz)
2,000 Year Old Sword, Menorah ‘Sketch’ Found (Arutz-Sheva)
Glimpse of ancient war in Jerusalem tunnel (YNet)
HT: J Lauer