ancient seal 311.
(photo credit: Vladimir Neihin)
Just as the holiday season buying frenzy wraps up, archeologists discovered one
of the original examples of store credit: A 2,000-year-old clay seal from the
Second Temple that was used to show that payment had been made for offerings to
The 1cm.-by-1cm. ancient seal was found with the words “Pure
for God” written in Aramaic. It is one of the first discoveries that deals with
the administrative aspect of the Second Temple, and helps put a human spin on
the day-to-day activities of the period, said archeologists involved with the
City of David excavations, where the seal was found.
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sifting through the dirt excavated from the north side of the Pool of Shiloah
discovered the small seal last week.
Due to the richness of the
archeological history, every bucket of dirt from the area around the Shiloah
spring is sifted before being thrown out. About 30 coins have been found this
way since excavations began in the spring five years ago.
“This felt like
a Hanukka miracle when it happened to us,” said Eli Shukron, the chief
archeologist for the City of David site.
Shukron works with Ronny Reich,
a professor at the University of Haifa who has worked in Jerusalem excavations
for 42 years.
Reich said on Sunday that while he doesn’t usually get
excited, he was thrilled at the discovery of the seal. Everyday items such as
cooking utensils, oil lamps and coins have been discovered at the pool in the
“These discoveries give us the feeling that every day we are
touching history. And we want the public to touch this history also,” Shukron
Similar seals were mentioned in the Mishnah (Tractate Shekalim
5:1-5): “Whoever required libations would go to Yohanan who was in charge of the
stamps and give him [the appropriate amount of] money and would receive a stamp
from him in return. He would then go to Ahiyah who was in charge over the
libations, give him the stamp, and receive the libations from
Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat spoke of the importance
of the seal at the unveiling of the artifact.
“This shows the connection
of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount,” she said. “And [the
discoveries] don’t stop – we are always finding more and more. There is no
future without the past and without our heritage.”