Ophel treasure found near Temple Mount in Israel

Ophel treasure found near Temple Mount in Israel

The archaeologist Eilat Mazar, from the University of jerusalem, has found a Ophel treasure (named after the excavation site) of great value in last summer's excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount.

Specifically, the expert has discovered 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a 10-centimeter medallion with the symbol of menorah (Candelabrum Temple), the shofar (ram's horn) and a scroll of the Torah.

According to Mazar, in the area they have found very relevant remains of the first period of the Temple, long before the history of Jerusalem. The discovery occurred in the last phase of the Ophel excavations and dates back to the Byzantine era (7th century AD). It was located in a dilapidated public structure just 50 meters from the south wall of Temple Mount.

The menorah It is a chandelier used in the Temple and is the national symbol of the state of Israel showing the presence of Jews in the area. Based on their location, one group of the remains appears to have been hidden underground, while the other appears to have been abandoned. And given their date, Mazar estimates that they were abandoned in the midst of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 AD. Afterward, the Jews returned to the city. When the Persian empire began to decline, it sought the support of the Christians, which allowed them to expel the Jews from Jerusalem.

As an ornament on a parchment of the Torah, the medallion would be the oldest found to date. It was buried along with a gold medallion, two earrings, a gold scroll, and a silver clasp.

The 36 gold coins date from the different reigns of Byzantine emperors, from the middle of the 4th century to the beginning of the 7th.”Says Lior Sandberg, a specialist at the Institute of Archeology. Along with the coins were a pair of gold earring, a silver ingot, and a hexagonal prism. Since cloth remains have also been found, it is assumed that these remains were packed.

The Ophel excavations provided in early 2012 the discovery of a Hebrew inscription that corresponds to the oldest written alphabetic text in Jerusalem.

This year the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University is directing the Ophel excavations, while the Israel Antiquities Authority is in charge of conservation and public opening tasks. The project has been funded since 2009 by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York.

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