Thursday, September 22, 2016

Menorah engraving found in Abila, Jordan

ARCHAEOLOGY: Archaeologists Find First Sign of Jews in Ancient Abila, Jordan. A menorah carving found in a church provides the first physical evidence of a long-assumed Jewish population in the Hellenistic city (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
A menorah carved on a stone block, found in a 1400-year-old Byzantine church in Abila, Jordan is the first tangible evidence of a Jewish presence in the ancient Hellenistic city that been assumed, but not proven.

There is ample evidence of Jewish presence in the region, such as an ancient synagogue discovered in nearby Jerash. But in 36 years of excavations at Tell al-Abila, also known as Selukeia, no traces of Jews living in the Roman trading hub had been found before.

The depiction of the seven-branched menorah, with a branching three-legged base, was found on a stone in the second tier of a wall, near the floor, while excavating a Byzantine church from the 6th or 7th century CE.

The menorah stone is in a secondary context, but it must be at least somewhat older than the church into which it was built. More on the Arch of Titus and its menorah is here (scroll down for photos) and here and links. Some other past posts involving ancient menorahs are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and links.