Ancient kosher 'bread stamp' found

Jan. 10, 2012 at 3:14 PM
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ACRE, Israel, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Israeli archaeologists say they've discovered a 1,500-year-old ceramic stamp used to mark baked goods as kosher.

The Israel Antiquities Authority found the kosher 'bread stamp' bearing the image of a menorah during excavations at Horbat Uza, east of Acre, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

Experts say they believe it belonged to a bakery providing kosher bread to the Jews of Acre in the Byzantine period.

"A number of stamps bearing an image of a menorah are known from different collections," Gilad Jaffe and Danny Syon, the directors of the excavation, said.

"The Temple Menorah, being a Jewish symbol par excellence, indicates the stamps belonged to Jews, unlike Christian bread stamps with the cross pattern which were much more common in the Byzantine period," they said.

"The stamp is important because it proves that a Jewish community existed in the settlement of Uza in the Christian-Byzantine period," Syon said. "The presence of a Jewish settlement so close to Acre -- a region that was definitely Christian at this time -- constitutes an innovation in archaeological research."

The stamp bears the image of a seven-branched menorah and Greek letters possible spelling the Launtius, common among Jews of the period.

"This is probably the name of the baker from Horbat Uza," Jaffe and Syon said.

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