The Jewish menorah—especially the Temple menorah, a seven-branched candelabra that stood in the Temple—is the most enduring and iconic Jewish symbol. But what did the Temple menorah actually look like?I noted the discovery of this menorah sketch at the time here. This BHD essay was first published in 2011, but I missed it then, so here it is.
In early August 2011, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) issued a press release announcing the discovery of “an engraving of the Temple menorah on a stone object” in a 2,000-year-old drainage channel near the City of David, which was being excavated by Professor Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron. (An unusually well preserved iron sword in its leather scabbard, which presumably belonged to a Roman soldier, was also found there.) The IAA release went on to say that “a passerby who saw the [Temple] menorah with his own eyes … incised his impressions on a stone.” The excavators were quoted as saying that this graffito “clarifies [that] the base of the original [ancient] menorah … was apparently tripod shaped.”
But does it?
Another ancient (nine-branched) menorah graffito was discovered in Aphrodisias in Turkey in 2015.
Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.