Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Hiking History

The Israel Antiquities Authority wants us to know that during the Hanukkah Holiday and Christmas Holiday Festivities engravings of a Seven-Branched Menorah and a Cross were Discovered by Hikers in an Ancient Water Cistern in the Judean Shephelah

From the press release: 

Last weekend touring enthusiasts Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz, who are members of the Israel Caving Club, went out to visit hidden caves in the Judean Shephelah. According to hiker Ido Meroz, “We heard there are interesting caves in the region. We began to peer into them, and that’s how we came to this cave, which is extremely impressive with rock-carved niches and engravings on the wall. Just before we were about to return we suddenly noticed an engraving that at first glance seemed to be a menorah. When we realized this is an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited. Its appearance was quite distinct. We left the cave and reported the discovery..”.

The menorah engraved on the wall of the cave has a base with three feet, and it evidently portrays the menorah that stood in the Temple during the Second Temple period. 

A cross was engraved near the menorah. 

Another engraving was found on the side of the cave which seems to resemble a type of key that is characteristic of antiquity, as well as other engravings that were noted, some of which have not yet been identified. 

According to Sa'ar Ganor, the District Archaeologist of Ashkelon in the Israel Antiquities Authority, “There are buildings and hiding refuges from the time of the Bar Kokhba uprising (second century CE) at the site and buildings that date to the Byzantine period. It is rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah, and this exciting discovery, which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday, substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period”.  Ganor added, “The menorah was probably etched in the cistern after the water installation was hewn in the bedrock – maybe by inhabitants of the Jewish settlement that was situated there during the Second Temple period and the time of Bar Kokhba – and the cross was etched later on during the Byzantine period, most likely in the fourth century CE.

The menorah is a distinctly Jewish symbol of the Second Temple period. To date, only two engravings of menorahs are known in the region of the Judean Shephelah: one on oil press at Bet Loya where the same style menorah is depicted, and the other in a burial complex in the vicinity of Bet Guvrin. Other menorahs are portrayed on clay lamps from Beit Natif.   

And there was no crescent symbol.


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