Roman sword, menorah engraving found

Aug. 9, 2011 at 7:27 AM
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JERUSALEM, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- An ancient Roman sword and scabbard, and an engraving of a menorah on stone were found during work on a 2,000-year-old drainage tunnel in Jerusalem.

The sword, still in its leather scabbard, was discovered by Israel Antiquity Authority workers excavating the tunnel, which served as a hiding place from the Romans for residents of Jerusalem during the time the Second Temple was destroyed, a statement issued Monday by the IAA said.

"It seems that the sword belonged to an infantryman of the Roman garrison stationed in Israel at the outbreak of the Great Revolt against the Romans in 66 CE. The sword's fine state of preservation is surprising: not only its length but also the preservation of the leather scabbard and some of its decoration," Eli Shukron director of the excavations said.

Workers also found a stone object adorned with a menorah buried in soil beneath a street near the drainage tunnel, Shukron said. The fact it was found in close proximity to the Temple Mount in the Old City is important, he said.

Shukron said the engraving showed a five-branch candelabrum rather than the usual seven branches.

The base he said appears to be tripod shaped.

Researchers said they believe the engraving was done by a passerby who saw the menorah and carved the impression on the stone, then tossed it to the side of the road.

The excavations are being conducted between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Gardens near the Western Wall.

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