Israel: Leper or Light Unto the Nations? Part 8: Jerusalem Dig Strikes Rare Gold


This year Israel received a wonderful New Year’s (Rosh Hashanah) gift from a team of archeologists led by Eilat Mazar.

She announced that, at the foot of the Temple Mount, the team had found a large gold medallion, “remarkably well kept and glittering,” with reliefs of a seven-branched menorah, a shofar, and a Torah—timeless fundaments of Judaism well familiar in Israel and much of the Jewish world today.

The medallion was in a fabric bag; along with it was another fabric bag containing 36 gold coins and other artifacts.

Mazar assessed that the medallion and coins were abandoned in 614 CE, the year of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem. She added:

The position of the items…indicates that one bundle was carefully hidden underground, while the second bundle was apparently abandoned in haste and scattered across the floor. ...

 [T]he most likely explanation is that the findings were earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue at a location that is near the Temple Mount. ...

What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful, and its owners couldn’t return to collect it.

Mazar believes the medallion was an ornament for a Torah scroll, which would make it “the earliest such archeological find in history.” As for the coins, an Israeli expert said they “can be dated to the reigns of different Byzantine emperors, ranging from the middle of the 4th century CE to the early 7th century CE.”

Also this year Mazar’s team discovered the oldest known inscription in Jerusalem—from around 1000 BCE at the time of King David, a period of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. The medallion, however, comes from almost half a millennium after the loss of Jewish sovereignty and attests to the ongoing attachment to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

An attachment that continued up to the astounding restoration of Israel in our era.