Archaeologists Find Early Depiction of a Menorah


menorah-smallIsraeli archaeologists have uncovered one of the earliest depictions of a menorah, the Israel Antiquities Authority said yesterday. The menorah was engraved in stone around 2,000 years ago and found in a shul recently discovered by the Sea of Galilee.

Pottery, coins and tools found at the site indicate the shul dates to the period of the second Bais Hamikdosh, where the actual menorah was kept, said archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The artist might have seen the menorah during shalosh regalim and then recreated it in the shul, she suggested.

menorahA small number of depictions of the menorah have surfaced from the same period, she said, but this one was unique because it was inside a shul and far from Yerushalayim, illustrating the link between Jews around Yerushalayim and in the Galil to the north.

The menorah, depicted atop a pedestal with a triangular base, is carved on a stone which was placed in the shul‘s central hall.

The Bais Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim was destroyed by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The Arch of Titus in Rome, erected to mark the Roman victory, depicts troops carrying the menorah from Yerushalayim to symbolize the defeat of the Jews.

Most other depictions of the menorah were made only after the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, and if this finding is indeed earlier, it could be closer to the original, said Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

“If you have a depiction of the menorah from the time of the Bais Hamikdosh, chances are it is more accurate and portrays the actual object than portrayals from after the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, when it was not existent,” he said.

The ancient shul was discovered in the town of Migdal.

{Yair Israel/AP}