The gold Torah medallion uncovered from a ruined Byzandium-era building on the south side of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
A GOLDEN treasure of religious artefacts and coins has been found at the base of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Archaeologists have recovered two bundles buried in a ruined Byzantine public structure a mere 50 meters from the Temple Mount’s southern wall, not far from the disputed Al Aqsa mosque.
Inside was 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewellery and a distinctive gold religious medallion.
The 10cm medallion is etched with the Temple’s logo a menorah candelabrum as well as other religious iconography such as a shofar (ram’s horn) and a Torah scroll. Attached to a gold chain, its discoverers believe the medallion was an ornament attached to a Torah.
It was found buried in a small hole under the floor, along with a smaller golden medallion and several gold and silver clasps and pendants which are believed to have been attached to the same document.
The second bundle appeared to have been abandoned as its owners fled or to have been hidden higher in the structure with its contents strewn over the floor.
The gold coins date from the fourth century through to the seventh century AD.
The 36 Byzantine gold coins have a date range from the middle of the fourth century AD through to the early seventh century. Other items of treasure included large gold earrings, a gold-plated hexagonal prism and a silver ingot.
The discovery was made by Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr Eilat Mazar who is responsible for the controversial excavations at the Ophel site adjoining Muslim sectors of the Temple Mount along its southern wall.
Dr Mazar said he believes the gold was abandoned during a Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614AD.
She has called the find “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”
“We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, a much earlier time in Jerusalem’s history, so discovering a golden seven-branched Menorah from the seventh century AD at the foot of the Temple Mount was a complete surprise.”
The expedition, funded by investors from New York, made headlines earlier this year when it claimed to have found an ancient Canaanite inscription, possibly the oldest piece of writing so far found in the city.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar displays the 10-cm gold medallion discovered at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Picture: Ouria Tadmor