Treasure trove of gold unearthed at base of Temple Mount
Hebrew University researchers on Monday announced the discovery of a rare trove of Byzantine-era gold and silver artifacts, the most impressive of which is a 10-centimeter solid gold medallion emblazoned with a menorah and other Jewish iconography.
Professor Eilat Mazar described the discovery as a unique find with “very clear Jewish symbols.” She posited that the hoard of gold and silver objects, found beneath the floor of a Byzantine-era house meters from the massive walls of the Temple Mount, was brought by Jews who returned to the city after the Persians conquered it from the Byzantines in 614 CE.
“I have never found so much gold in my life!” she said with obvious excitement at a press conference on Mount Scopus. “I was frozen. It was unexpected.” The centerpiece, a medallion that Mazar posited may have been used as ornamentation for a Torah scroll, is emblazoned with a seven-armed candelabrum — a menorah — a Torah scroll, and a shofar, a ram’s horn.
Mazar, a third-generation Israeli archaeologist, has overseen the excavations of the Ophel and Jerusalem’s City of David, the lower slope of the Temple Mount. The digs, while contentious for taking place in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, have yielded the earliest known artifacts in the city, dating as far back as the 12th and 11th centuries BCE and, according to Mazar, evidence of the Biblical Kings of David and Solomon.
Read The Times of Israel article, September 9, 2013.
Photo credit: courtesy Ouria Tadmor/Hebrew University.