Comprehensive coverage

An enigmatic and rare stone box from the Second Temple period, which was discovered in the excavations of the Antiquities Authority in the City of David, is on display to the public for the first time at the Israel Museum

The sides of the object, which seems to have been used for commercial activity, are burnt. The researchers: This is evidence of the events of the destruction of Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago

The box as shown in the archeology section of the Israel Museum. Photo: Zohar Shemesh, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The box as shown in the archeology section of the Israel Museum. Photo: Zohar Shemesh, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

A rare stone chest with nine compartments, dating back to the days of the Second Temple - about 2,000 years ago, is now being revealed to the public for the first time in a display at the Israel Museum's archeology wing. The unusual tool in its design was discovered in the excavations of the Antiquities Authority in the City of David in the National Park around the walls of Jerusalem Old, which are held with the funding of the Elad association and in cooperation with the Ministry of Heritage.

The shape of the box is square, its size is 30x30 cm, and it is made of soft limestone (Kirton) that is worked in a sculptor. It is divided into nine square cells, similar in size and volume. The sides of the object, which was discovered in excavations along the stepped street in the City of David in a layer of destruction from the end of the Second Temple period, are blackened, and it appears that it was burned during the events of the great rebellion that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. The nine-compartment vessel was discovered in the remains of a building that stood next to the terraced street, and was used as a store.

The researchers speculate that the vessel was used for commercial activity and for the presentation of goods in a small and measured quantity. According to the managers of the excavation, Dr. Yuval Baruch and Ari Levy from the Antiquities Authority, "In the excavations of the terraced street, where the tray was discovered, many other objects were also found that testify to the lively commercial activity that took place along it. Among other things, pottery and glassware storage vessels, mobile and stationary production facilities, cooking facilities, tools for measuring volumes, coins and many stone weights, of various values, were discovered, all testifying to the commercial activity of a lively urban market that operated along the street. The street, which was the main street of the city 2000 years ago, was used by pilgrims and connected the Shiloh Pool to the Temple Mount. It seems, then, that the vessel with the compartments is also related to the commercial activity that took place on the street."

The economic and commercial system that operated in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period was similar in nature to the one that occurred in the other cities of the Roman world. It was an economy that was based on the local production of consumer goods and their sale in the markets, along with the import of other products, some even exotic. Meanwhile, there were also special aspects to trade in Jerusalem, which was conducted as a temple city. Many aspects of daily life and trade were conducted in the light of the temple, and this is expressed, in particular, in the extreme strictness of the residents of the city and Francia on the laws of impurity and purity. For this, the saying "a breach of purity in Israel" was established. Among the distinct archaeological finds that represent the phenomenon, stone tools stand out, thousands of which were discovered in excavations throughout the ancient city and its surroundings.

The reasons for using tools made of stone are halachic, and are rooted in the halachic recognition that stone, unlike tools made of clay and metal, does not receive impurity. Because of this, it was even possible to use the stone tools over time and in cycles. "It seems, then, that the stone box with the cells from the City of David is also related to one degree or another to the unique Jerusalem economy, the one that was conducted in the shadow of the temple and under the observance of the laws of impurity and purity. Because of this, it can even be considered a distinct Jerusalem find." Levy and Dr. Baruch say.

But what was the tool with the cells used for? Fragments of a similar object were discovered about 50 years ago by the archaeologist Nachman Avigad in the excavations of the Jewish Quarter, and humorously called by him a "cracker bowl". This nickname "sticks" to the object, and since then it is also used by some of the researchers dealing with the subject. Since then, other fragments of this type of vessel have been discovered, all in Jerusalem, and especially in the excavations of the City of David, but the one recently discovered is the only complete example known in archaeological research. And yet, at this stage of the research, the answer to the riddle of the artifact and what it was used for, still remains unanswered.

According to my blessed uncle, Senior Curator in the Department of Archeology at the Israel Museum, "The box was found broken into many parts with parts of it missing. The fragments were transferred to the Artifact Conservation Laboratory at the Israel Museum, where they were preserved and restored in the hands of Victor Uziel's beliefs - this is one of the specialties of our conservation laboratories, which know how to receive broken finds straight from the field and transfer them from "excavation state to display state". We have placed the box in our permanent display, together with a group of magnificent finds from the luxury houses of Jerusalem from the end of the Second Temple - colorful wall hangings, chandeliers and magnificent pottery and metal vessels - you are invited to come and see them."

3 תגובות

  1. Noise records about nothing, one of the children of the grocery store owner created a box for some kind of convenience, that's all!

  2. If it was for the allocation of tithes, they would have had to build a box with ten identical cells, not nine. Beyond that, the cells are too small to be a really useful tool for liquid or bulk goods. They probably counted sacks, or jugs, or amphoras.

  3. Maybe it was used to set aside tithes. Nine equal parts for Israel and one for Levi. what do you think?

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.