The 15th annual Archeological Conference, organized by Megalim, The City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies, featured rare gold antiquities Thursday in a “Jerusalem of Gold” exhibit, highlighting the ancient Jewish connection to the capital.
“Never before have such valuable objects from the past been displayed for the public,” said Ahron Horovitz, director of Megalim. “It is the opportunity for every individual to experience the authenticity of Jerusalem’s history in its most tangible form.”
The exhibit’s centerpiece was discovered in 2013 at the Ophel excavation, just south of the Temple Mount, by Dr. Eilat Mazar. Of the rare antiquities unearthed during the excavation – including 36 gold coins and two large gold earrings – the most significant was a 10 cm. gold medallion, emblazoned with a menorah, shofar and Torah scroll.
Dating back to the year 614 CE, during the period of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem, the medallion represents the earliest depiction of a Torah scroll ever found. According to Mazar, it may have represented the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem under the newly established Persian rule, following hundreds of years of Christian oppression.
“The most likely explanation is that the findings were earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue at a location that is near the Temple Mount,” he said.
Also on display was a 2,000-year-old gold earring, inlaid with pearls and emeralds.
“The discovery dates back to the time of Jesus, during the Roman period,” said Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, chief archeologist of the Givati excavation, located in the City of David where the earring was found. “It must have belonged to someone among the elite in Jerusalem.”
At the conclusion of the conference, attended by over 1,000 visitors, the complete collection of gold antiquities will be on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.