For the First Time: 2000-year old Jewish Settlement uncovered in Beer Sheva

For the First Time: 2000-year old Jewish Settlement uncovered in Beer Sheva

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Jewish Settlement

Archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, underwritten by the Ministry of Housing to facilitate the construction of a new neighborhood, have revealed among other things, the sherd of a rare oil lamp depicting a menorah with nine branches. This is one of the earliest artistic depictions of a Jewish menorah ever discovered.

The public is invited to visit the archaeological excavation next Monday

For the first time

the remains of a Jewish settlement of the Second Temple period have been discovered in Beer Sheva. The archaeological excavation carried out to facilitate a new neighborhood near the northern entrance to Beer Sheba has revealed evidence of Jewish day-to-day life there, including part of an oil lamp decorated with a nine-branched menorah – one of the earliest yet discovered by researchers – as well as limestone vessels used by Jews for reasons of ritual purity, a watchtower and more. The site, dated from the 1st century CE until the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE, also appears to contain underground hidden passageways used by the Jewish rebels.

According to the excavators, Dr. Peter Fabian of the Ben-Gurion University in the Negev and Dr. Daniel Varga  of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Remains of the settlement cover an area of c. 2 dunams and include several structures and installations, such as the foundations of a large watchtower, baking facilities, ancient trash pits and an underground system that was probably used as a Jewish ritual bath (mikveh).  Signs of a conflagration discovered in some of the structures evince a crisis that the settlement experienced, probably that of the First Jewish Revolt in c. 70 CE.” 

The site

is located along the southern border of the ancient kingdom of Judah next to a road that led from Tel Beer Sheva to the southern coastal plain. The site’s strategic value along the road was probably the reason for the construction of a 10 x 10 m. watchtower, the foundations of which were uncovered in the excavation. The remains of a staircase would have led upwards to the two upper levels that are no longer extant. During the Late Roman period, the stones of the tower were used to construct other nearby buildings.

The special finds uncovered in the excavation included a sherd of an oil lamp of a type known as a Jewish “Southern lamp”. There was great excitement when the sherd was cleaned and its decoration revealed: a nine-branched menorah.

According to Fabian and Varga

“This is probably one of the earliest artistic depictions of a nine-branched menorah yet discovered.”  It is interesting to note that of the few lamps found depicting a menorah, these are never seven-branched. This was in accordance with a ruling in the Babylonian Talmud stating that only the menorah in the Temple could have seven branches and thus lamps used in domestic contexts commonly had eight to eleven branches.

Dozens of bronze coins discovered at the site belong to the period of Roman provincial rule. Some were minted in Ashqelon and others were minted in cities from throughout the Roman Empire.

The public is invited to visit the archaeological excavation next Monday, April 8, between 15:00-17:00 at no charge. Details can be found on the Israel Antiquities Authority Facebook page – רשות העתיקות-לגעת בעבר. 

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Mi chiamo Fabrizio Tenerelli, sono un foto-giornalista iscritto all’Albo Professionisti della Liguria. Sono redattore del Settimanale La Riviera e del relativo quotidiano online; sono anche corrispondente dell’Agenzia Ansa dalla provincia di Imperia e corrispondente de Il Giornale (di Milano). Ho diretto per sette anni un quotidiano online locale. Durante la mia ultraventennale esperienza in campo giornalistico ho avuto modo di collaborare per quotidiani nazionali, tra cui: Il Giornale di Milano, Repubblica, Il Giorno, il Messaggero, Il Mattino e via dicendo. Ho anche collaborato, a livello fotografico, con diverse testate nazionali, tra cui: Corriere della Sera, settimanale “Oggi” e via dicendo e per televisioni, tra cui Rai e Mediaset. Ho anche collaborato con radio del panorama locale (Radio 103, per la quale ho svolto per anni i notiziario, curando la redazione) e nazionale, tra cui Radio24, per la quale ho svolto alcuni collegamenti per fatti di cronaca. Nel 2014, inoltre, sono stato in Israele, come free lance in territorio di guerra, durante l’operazione “Tzuk Eitan”. Negli ultimi tempi, mi interesso anche di web marketing, web design e sviluppo di siti in Wordpress, Seo e Sem.

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