An intact carving of Cupid made of blue onyx dating from the Roman period was unearthed in the parking lot near the City of David, the Antiquities Authority announced on Monday.
The 2,000-year-old Cupid, about a centimeter long, was probably from a piece of jewelry.
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The announcement was made ahead of the 11th annual City of David Archeology Conference, which will take place on Wednesday at the City of David complex and include a presentation of recent finds. The cupid discovery was made by Dr.
Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, both of the Antiquities Authority, and funded by the City of David Foundation.
“This discovery, together with other important finds that we uncovered from this unusual, large Roman structure at the City of David, contribute significantly to our understanding of the nature of Jerusalem’s Roman Period,” Ben-Ami said in a statement.
The inlaid stone features cupid holding an upsidedown torch, which was used to symbolize the cessation of life. The piece is part of a series of archeological finds in the area that deal with images of mourning.
The conference will feature a host of archeologists and professors exploring topics such as mapping the Mount of Olives cemetery, discoveries in the Givati parking lot (in addition to the carving), and excavations of the Shiloah pool. The confab is expected to attract 1,400 people, making it one of the largest archeological conferences in Israel, according to Udi Ragones, the spokesman for the City of David and Elad, the private organization that runs the park.
Elad has drawn condemnation from activists who say that the organization’s efforts to move Jews into Silwan make it a bad choice to privately administer a park located in the east Jerusalem neighborhood. The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, known for organizing weekly protests in the neighborhood following the eviction of two Arab families in August 2009, is organizing a demonstration outside Wednesday’s conference.
“We want to come and bring up the point that it is a political conference, that their goals are political and that anyone taking part in this conference is in actuality supporting the actions of the settlers in Silwan, which is throwing people out of their homes, taking their land and deeply harming the residents of Silwan,” said Avner Inbar, a spokesman for the Solidarity Movement.
Inbar said Silwan residents had asked for their help in organizing a protest, and he expected anywhere from 100 to 150 demonstrators.
“Silwan is a really tense place, and Elad is just showing this off to tourists as an amusement park of archeology, saying, ‘Look how great this is, we found something here, something else here,’” he said. “They have ads in all the papers in Jerusalem, saying you should come on Succot with your kids for a fun day the City of David. It’s really nice that you can come with your kids and have a fun day, but there are 30,000 residents in Silwan and it’s not fun for them at all.”
“The attendees looked at [the protesters] with contempt.
They understood that these people are just trying to stop the excavations in Jerusalem, but the people who come to this conference want just the opposite,” Elad’s Ragones said.
He dismissed the planned protest, saying they tried the same tactic last year and only five protesters showed up.