An ancient limestone weight, dating back to the Iron Age – the First Temple period, which corresponds to the measurement unit of two shekels at that time, has been discovered at an archaeological excavation next to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Tuesday.The weight was found beneath Wilson’s Arch and was retrieved from earthen fills by the City of David sifting project. The excavation is nearing its completion and researchers have unearthed many enlightening and unexpected discoveries that will be included in the tour of the Western Wall Tunnels. “How exciting, in the month of Tishrei, whose symbol is the scales of justice, to find a souvenir from the First Temple period. Actually now, when coming to the Western Wall is so restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, this finding strengthens the eternal connection between the Jewish nation, Jerusalem, and the Western Wall while offering us all encouragement,” Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, said in a statement.The excavation where the weight was found was conducted by the IAA in conjunction with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman, directors of the excavation on behalf of the IAA, “The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base. On the top of the weight is an incised Egyptian symbol resembling a Greek gamma (γ), representing the abbreviated unit ‘shekel.’ Two incised lines indicate the double mass: two shekels."One of the uses of the shekel weight system during the First Temple period was to collect an annual tax of half a shekel dedicated to the sacrifices and upkeep of the Temple."According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.5 grams and a double shekel should weigh 23 grams, exactly the measure of this artifact. That accuracy attests to advanced technological skills and that it was used for precise trading and commerce in ancient Jerusalem. Coins were not yet in use during the period, so the accuracy of weights was significant for business dealings."All year, but particularly at times of pilgrimage, the area at the foot of the Temple Mount was certain to be busy. Locals and pilgrims would have traded for sacrifices and offerings as well as for food, souvenirs and other commodities. A weight such as the one discovered would have been used to measure accurate amounts of products at the market."During previous archaeological excavations beneath Wilson’s Arch, directed by Dr. Joe Uziel, Lieberman and Dr. Avi Solomon, several stone courses of the Western Wall were exposed, after being covered with earthen fills some 1,800 years ago. The renewed excavation continues the previous discoveries of the preceding dig. “The unique finding from the First Temple Period, discovered in a context dating several centuries later, to the Roman period, indicates that the Western Wall area holds remains from a wide range of periods reflecting the centrality of the area for many centuries,” Monnickendam-Givon and Lieberman said.In 2018, a half-shekel weight was found in soil originating from the foot of Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall, just north of the City of David.