2,000-year old seal bearing portrait of Apollo unearthed in soil around Western Wall


October 29, 2020 10:47 am
October 29, 2020 10:47 amLeave your thoughts

(October 29, 2020 / JNS) A 2,000-year-old gem seal (intaglio) bearing the portrait of the Greek god Apollo has been unearthed in soil removed from the foundation of Jerusalem’s Western Wall during the Tzurim Valley National Park sifting project, the City of David announced in a statement.

According to researchers, this is only the third such gem seal ever found in Jerusalem from the Second Temple period.

The gem is cut from dark brown jasper, considered a precious stone in antiquity, and has remnants of yellow-light, brown, and white layers. Oval-shaped, it is also extremely small, being half an inch in length, two-fifths of an inch wide and only about one-ninth of an inch thick.

Because the gem is an intaglio (that is, a gem with a design carved into its upward-facing side), its main function was the stamping of a seal on soft material, usually beeswax, for use as a personal signature. The gem features an engraving of Apollo’s head in profile to the left.

According to archaeologist Eli Shukron, professor Shua Amorai-Stark and senior archaeologist Malka Hershkovitz, although Apollo is an Olympian deity of the Greek and Roman cultures, it is highly probable that the owner of this ring was a Jew.


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