Bible and archaeology news
The date of the treasure and the context in which it was discovered inside an early seventh-century building led Mazar to believe the hoard was abandoned during the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 C.E. While one bundle of the treasure was hidden underground, the contents of the other bundle were scattered on the floor of the building—time had apparently run out.
The four-inch gold medallion, the prize find of the so-called Ophel treasure, features a menorah, shofar (ram’s horn) and what Mazar interprets to be a Torah scroll. David Mevorach, senior curator of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine collection at the Israel Museum, told The Times of Israel that the Torah scroll was typically depicted horizontally, not vertically, as seen on the Ophel medallion. Mevorach believes what’s depicted under the right side of the menorah is, actually, a bundle of myrtle, willow and palm branches. These plants are three of the four species mentioned in the Torah that are bound together during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and collectively known as the lulav.
While the iconography of the medallion continues to be debated, what remains clear is that the Ophel treasure is an exceptional discovery—indeed, only two other caches of gold coins have thus far been found in Jerusalem.
Did I Find King David’s Palace? by Eilat Mazar
As published in the January/February 2006 issue of BAR
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