Evidence of ancient Jewish presence found in Jordanian church


(JNS.org) A menorah carving found in a 1,400-year-old Byzantine church in Jordan provides the first substantial evidence of Jewish presence in the ancient city of Abila, which has long thought to have a Jewish population, Haaretz reported.

A drawing on the depiction of the Menorah seen on the Arch of Titus in Rome, Italy. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The seven-branched menorah with a three-legged branch was carved on a stone block found in the second tier of a wall in the church, while excavating the Byzantine church from the sixth or seventh century C.E.

“This is the first physical evidence of a Jewish presence at Abila, and holds great promise that further discoveries will give more evidence in this direction,” said Dave Vila, head of the excavations.

Archaeologists can only confirm that the menorah carving predates the church which is 1,300-1,400 years old.

The stone block is believed to be repurposed from another structure, such as a synagogue. Menorahs similar to this carving are often discovered on mosaic synagogue floors from the Late Antiquity period, from the late third century A.D. to the mid-seventh century A.D.

Posted on September 22, 2016 .