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Photo: Oren Gutfeld and Asaf Peretz, IAA
Excavation unveils scale weight belonging to high priest
An archaeological dig in the Old City of Jerusalem has unearthed a weight that is marked with the name of the high priest from the Second Temple.

Nearly 2,000 years after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the archaeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld of Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found a scale weight from that period that apparently belonged to the family of the high priest—and which has his name carved on it.

 

 

The weight was found as part of the excavation carried out at the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the capital's Old City. The Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out the dig together with Hebrew University, and it is being funded by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, Ltd.

 

The scale (Photo: Oren Gutfeld and Asaf Peretz, IAA)
The scale (Photo: Oren Gutfeld and Asaf Peretz, IAA)

This is the second time that such a weight has been uncovered. Excavations at the nearby Burnt House found a similar weight.

Gutfeld explained that he himself unearthed the weight, which has two lines of Aramaic text and a lyre between them. This was initially obscured by a burnt layer, which is presumably from the burning of Jerusalem. While the first line of text has not been fully deciphered, the family name of the high priest was discernible.

 

Scene of the dig (Photo: Oren Gutfeld and Asaf Peretz, IAA)
Scene of the dig (Photo: Oren Gutfeld and Asaf Peretz, IAA)

 

"It doesn't happen very much that I get emotional when I find artifacts. But here, I went pale and even felt a small tremble to see the name of the high priest."

 

Oren Gutfeld (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
Oren Gutfeld (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)

 

The Tiferet Israel Synagogue was built in the 19th century, but when the Jordanians seized the area, it was destroyed. In 2014, a cornerstone was laid for its rebuilding, but an excavation of the site has since expanded. Artifacts have been uncovered from the Ottoman, the Mamluk, the Byzantine, the Second Temple and the First Temple periods.

 

Gutfeld expanded, "New mikvehs (ritual baths) that we didn't know about and their heating system have been uncovered.

 

The findings from the Second Temple period were about a meter beneath the building's floor. They also include stone and glass tools, rings, pottery and candles that were put there for storage.

 

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