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Exciting Finds in First-century Water Channel

October 10, 2011
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Photo by IAA/Vladimir Naykhin A rare golden bell is possibly the most exciting find. According to excavation directors, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, it might be one that was “sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple Period.” It evidently fell from the street above the channel, which was one of the city’s main thoroughfares to the Temple. Some are asking, Could that “high official” have been a high priest?

Exodus 28 tells us that a high priest wore a robe with gold bells hanging from its hem: “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue…a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around” (vv. 31, 34). It is impossible to know for certain; however, the archaeologists said the possibility should not be entirely discounted.

An iron sword, still in its leather scabbard, was discovered in the channel that served as a refuge for the city’s residents hiding from the Romans after the Lower City went up in flames. “I believe it was in the hands of the rebels, but it was obviously of the type that belonged to the Roman centurions…It was probably taken from the garrison in AD 66 when they took over the city and the rebels used it,” Shukron told The Media Line.

Or, could it be that a Roman soldier died in a fight with refugees in the channel? A peek preview of the channel on a video posted by Ynetnews reported that it wasn’t long before the Romans found the hide-out, as pieces of the street were found where the soldiers had broken through to the channel below. They also found cooking pots, suggesting that residents were not using the channel as a passageway, but a hide-out.

“We aren’t finding these things often. This sword connects us to the revolt, and it is the first one that we found that is so clearly connected to the destruction. It tells us that these things really happened and that the Roman destruction of Jerusalem was not just a story,” Shukron told The Media Line. “It was a sword that was used, a real one, a weapon. It is very important, and it takes us to the destruction.”

He added, “The sword’s fine state of preservation is surprising: not only its length [c. 60 cm, 23.6 in], but also the preservation of the leather scabbard [a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time] and some of its decoration.”

Photo by IAA/Vladimir Naykhin A menorah-etched stone object was also found. “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,” reported the archaeologists.

The fact that it was found at the closest proximity to the Temple Mount to date is also important. The researchers propose that a worshipper who saw the menorah incised his impressions on a stone and afterwards tossed his scrawling to the side of the road—without knowing it would be found 2,000 years later! “This is like a postcard from the past,” exclaimed Shukron to The Media Line.

Source: By Charleeda Sprinkle, Assistant Editor

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