Av 8, 5771, 08/08/2011
by Gil Ronen
Stone slab with five-branched menorah etching, Roman era sword discovered near Temple Mount.
Exciting finds, including an intact Roman era sword and a stone "sketch" engraving of the Menorah, have been discovered in archeological digs near the Temple Mount recently, and the Antiquities Authority is making them known for Tisha B'Av – the anniversary of the Temple's destruction.
The Authority has been digging – with assistance from the Parks and Gardens Authority and the sponsorship of the NGO Elad – in the ancient drainage canal that served Jerusalem. This ditch runs from the Shiloach (Siloam) Pool to the archeological garden near the Kotel.
Inside the canal, where Jerusalemites hid from the Romans during the siege of the Second Temple, a 2,000-year-old iron sword was found. The sword was inside a leather scabbard. Parts of the belt that carried the scabbard were also found.
Eli Shukrun and Ronny Reich, who are in charge of the digs, said that the sword "may have belonged to a Roman infantryman who was stationed in Jerusalem when the Great Rebellion broke out in 66 CE."
"The sword is surprisingly well-preserved: not just in terms of length – about 60 cm. – but also in the preservation of the leather scabbard… and some of its decorations."
At the side of the canal, a stone tablet was found with a rare etching of the golden Menorah that was a central item in the Jewish Temple. The archeologists note that the fact that it was found very close to the Mount is very important, and they surmise that "a person who had seen the real Menorah and was impressed by its beauty engraved its image on a slab of stone and then threw it to the side of the road, not imagining that his creation would be found 2,000 years later."
The sketch describes a five-branched menorah, while the Temple Menorah had seven branches.