MedallionWhen I was out in Colorado a number of years ago, we went panning for gold.  Of course we didn’t find anything, but the adventure was fun.  Compared to panning in gold in a river in the Rocky Mountains, this summer Dr. Eilat Mazar found a hoard of gold dating 1,400 years old.

Just a few days ago, Dr. Mazar shared her excitement in an interview recorded with, “It was truly amazing…. And then first thing, I remember, ‘What is this doing here, what is that?’  And the second was, ‘What am I going to do with this gold?’  It causes trouble, and I immediately started to worry about it.”

OphelSpecifically, two bundles of treasure containing an unbelievable 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion.  This gold piece was etched with a Menorah (Temple candelabrum).  Also etched into this 10-centimeter (4 inch) medallion was a ram’s horn (shofar), and a Torah scroll.

Found just five days into the summer excavation project of the Hebrew University in the area of the Ophel (the area between the Temple Mount and the City of David), Dr. Mazar continued, “This was a breathtaking, once-in-a-discovery find.  We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, am much earlier time in Jerusalem’s history, so discovering a golden seven-branched Menorah from the 7th century CE at the foot of the Temple Mount as a complete surprise.”  It is theorized that the medallion was probably “meant to hang on somebody, as a decoration, like for a leader of a synagogue or the one praying with the Torah.”

CoinThis late Byzantine find seemingly represents a desire of the Jewish community to rebuild Jerusalem during a transitional time of history in Jerusalem.  With the Persians briefly taking control in the early part of the 7th century (for about 15 years, from 614-629 CE), followed by the Byzantines resuming authority for a short time until the coming of the Islamic movement storming the scene in 638 CE, it is quite interesting to have evidence of a Jewish community presence in Jerusalem.

Congratulations to Dr. Mazar and to the Hebrew University for this discovery.  Truly, a find of a lifetime!

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