Debit/Credit Payment

Credit/Debit/Bank Transfer

Ancient Two-Shekalim Weight Discovered Adjacent to the Western Wall

December 22, 2020

by: Excerpt from a press release by the IAA

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An ancient limestone-made weight, dating to the Iron Age—the First Temple period—was discovered in an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in conjunction with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. The excavation site is beneath Wilson’s Arch, adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The weight, corresponding to the known measurement unit of two shekalim [plural for shekel, a unit of weight in ancient Israel], was retrieved during sifting of earthen fills by the City of David sifting project. The excavation is nearing its completion, unearthing fascinating discoveries soon to be included in the tour of the Western Wall Tunnels.

According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman, directors of the excavation on behalf of the IAA: “The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base. On the top of the weight is an incised Egyptian symbol resembling a Greek gamma (γ), representing the abbreviated unit ‘shekel.’ Two incised lines indicate the double mass: two shekalim. One of the uses of the shekel weight system during the First Temple period was to collect an annual tax of half a shekel dedicated to the sacrifices and upkeep of the Temple. According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.5 grams [0.4 oz], thus a double shekel should weigh 23 grams [0.8 oz]—exactly as this weight does. The accuracy of the weight attests to advanced technological skills as well as to the importance given to precise trade and commerce in ancient Jerusalem. Coins were not yet in use during this period, therefore accuracy of the weights played a significant role in business.

“The area at the foot of the Temple Mount was busy year-round, but especially during the times of pilgrimage. Locals and pilgrims would have traded for sacrifices and offerings as well as for food, souvenirs and other commodities. A weight such as the one discovered would have been used to measure accurate amounts of products at the market.”

Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, commented, “Actually now, when coming to the Western Wall is so restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, this finding strengthens the eternal connection between the Jewish nation, Jerusalem and the Western Wall while offering us all encouragement.”

Photo Credit: Dafna Gazit/IAA

Latest News

Current Issue

View e-Dispatch

PDF Dispatch

Search Dispatch Articles

  • Order