JERUSALEM (JTA) — Gold and silver coins and jewelry dated from the seventh century were discovered at an excavation at the foot of the Temple Mount, Hebrew University researchers said.
The discovery of the two bundles of treasure at the Temple Mount’s southern wall, at the Ophel excavation site, was announced Monday by the researchers.
The artifacts can be dated to the late Byzantine period, or early seventh century CE.
Eilat Mazar, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist, made the discovery during summer excavations and called it “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery.” Mazar believes the bundles were abandoned during the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE.
They include 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion etched with the Temple menorah, shofar and Torah scroll. The medallion likely was a Torah scroll ornament.
“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 CE at the foot of the Temple Mount was a complete surprise,” Mazar said in a statement.