JERUSALEM (JTA) – An 1,800-year-old figurine was discovered during an excavation in Jerusalem’s City of David.
The marble bust depicts a bearded man’s head and was probably a boxer; boxing was among the most popular fields of heavy athletics in Roman culture. The figurine likely dates back to the time of the emperor Hadrian or shortly thereafter, circa the second or third centuries, according to archeologists on site.
“To the best of our knowledge, to date no similar artifact made of marble (or any other kind of stone) bearing the same image that was just found has been discovered in excavations elsewhere in the country," said Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. "It seems that what we have here is a unique find."
According to the researchers, the two tiny holes that were drilled in its nape and which contained the remains of metal that was inserted in them indicate that this is a suspended weight that was used with hanging scales that are characteristic of the Roman period.
A foreign merchant carrying the figure was likely staying in the public building that is being excavated now when it collapsed.
One of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever found in Jerusalem was discovered recently at the same site.