In excavations throughout Israel, images of menorahs (menorot in Hebrew) keep turning up. Last year Jerusalem archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron discovered a first-century menorah graffito inscribed on a stone near the Temple Mount.a Then earlier this year, excavators at Horbat Uza, east of Akko, announced that they had uncovered a Byzantine ceramic seal during an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) dig conducted prior to railroad construction.
According to excavation directors Gilad Jaffe and Danny Sion, the 1,500-year-old seal was probably a bread stamp used by a local bakery to identify kosher baked goods. Epigrapher Leah di Segni of the Hebrew University interpreted the Greek inscription on the handle to read “Launtius,” which the excavators suggest was the name of the baker.
It is not the only menorah stamp from antiquity, but it is the first to come from a controlled excavation and therefore have a secure date and provenance. The find has also shed light on a significant Jewish population living in the Christian-dominated area of Byzantine Akko.
- See Strata: “Is This What the Temple Menorah Looked Like?” BAR, 37:06.