Recent excavations near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem unearthed a literal treasure trove once again confirming an ancient Jewish presence in the city.
Led by archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University, the excavating team found a total of 36 gold coins, gold and silver jewelry and a very special gold medallion.
On the medallion can be seen the images of a menorah (seven-branched candelabrum), a shofar (ram's horn) and a Torah scroll. Researchers believe the medallion was in fact an ornament for a Torah scroll, perhaps the oldest such adornment ever found.
For Dr. Mazar, the discovery, especially of the Torah ornament, is downright sensational: "We have already made many discoveries in this area from the time of the first Jewish Temple. But the image of a seven-branched candelabrum has totally surprised us."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully shared that sentiment, stating in a phone call to Dr. Mazar: "This is a magnificent discovery. Nationally, it attests to the ancient Jewish presence and to the sanctity of the place; this is as clear as the sun and it is tremendous. ...This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish People's link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage – menorah, shofar, Torah scroll. The essence of the Jewish People could not be any more succinct and clear. This is a wonderful gift to the Jewish People."
The treasures were found 50 yards from the southern wall of the Temple Mount. "The most likely explanation for the location of the treasure is that it was intended as a contribution to the building of a new synagogue in the vicinity of the Temple Mount," explained Dr. Mazar. "However, one can assume that this mission was not successful."