• Ancient Seal Found in Jerusalem’s Old City, Linked to Rituals

    Ancient Seal Found in Jerusalem’s Old City, Linked to Rituals

     Ancient Seal Found in Jerusalem’s Old City, Linked to Rituals

    A rare clay seal is displayed during a news conference at the archaeological site known as the City of David in east Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011. Israeli archaeologists say they have unearthed a rare clay seal that appears to be linked to religious rituals that took place at the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago.

    By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press

    JERUSALEM (AP) — A rare clay seal found under Jerusalem’s Old City appears to be linked to religious rituals practiced at the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago, Israeli archaeologists said Sunday.

    The coin-sized seal found near the Jewish holy site at the Western Wall bears two Aramaic words meaning “pure for God.”

    Archaeologist Ronny Reich of Haifa University said it dates from between the 1st century B.C. to 70 A.D. — the year Roman forces put down a Jewish revolt and destroyed the second of the two biblical Jewish temples.

    The find marks the first discovery of a written seal from that period of Jerusalem’s history, and appeared to be a unique physical artifact from ritual practice in the Temple, he said.

    Very few artifacts linked to the Temple have been discovered so far. The site of the Temple itself — the enclosure known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — remains off-limits to archaeologists because of its religious and political sensitivity.

    Archaeologists say the seal was likely used by Temple officials approving an object for ritual use — oil, perhaps, or an animal intended for sacrifice. Materials used by Temple priests had to meet stringent purity guidelines stipulated in detail in Jewish legal texts, which also mention the use of such seals.

    The site where the seal was found is on the route of a main street that ran through ancient Jerusalem just outside the Temple compound.

    The seal was found in an excavation run by archaeologists from the government’s Israel Antiquities Authority. The dig is under the auspices of a broader excavation nearby known as the City of David, where archaeologists are investigating the oldest part of Jerusalem.

    The City of David dig, located inside the nearby Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and funded by a Jewish group affiliated with the settlement movement, is the Holy Land’s highest-profile and most politically controversial excavation.



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    AP Photo/Oded Balilty

    Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/ancient-seal-found-in-jerusalems-old-city-linked-to-rituals.html#ixzz1hdlVKpir

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