(JNS.org) Hanukkah ended Jan. 1, but the Hanukkah-related findings haven’t stopped in the Israeli archaeology world.
Hikers exploring hidden caves in the Judean shephelah (lowlands) came across ancient engravings of a seven-branched menorah and a cross last weekend, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday. The menorah drawing carved into the wall of a cave visited by touring enthusiasts Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz has a base with three feet, resembling the menorah used in the Second Temple era. The cross was engraved near the menorah. The hikers informed the IAA of their discovery.
“Just before we were about to return [from our hike] we suddenly noticed an engraving that at first glance seemed to be a menorah,” Meroz said in a statement. “When we realized this is an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited. Its appearance was quite distinct.”
Sa'ar Ganor, the IAA’s district archaeologist for Ashkelon, explained that the engravings provide evidence of the Jewish presence in the land of Israel during the Second Temple era.
“There are buildings and hiding refuges from the time of the Bar Kokhba uprising (2nd century CE) at the site and buildings that date to the Byzantine period,” Ganor said. “It is rare to find a wall engraving of a menorah, and this exciting discovery, which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday, substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period.”
Before the start of Hanukkah last month, the IAA revealed the discovery of a 2,100-year-old stone bowl bearing the Hebrew inscription “Hyrcanus,” which was the name of two of the leaders of the Hanukkah story’s Jewish Hasmonean dynasty.