Inside the Middle East
December 28, 2011
Posted: 1032 GMT

A newly discovered 2000-year-old coin-sized clay seal is shedding light on one of the most significant periods of Jewish history, Israeli archaeologists announced Sunday.

The seal was found in an ongoing archaeological excavation taking place along Jerusalem’s Western Wall and carries an Aramaic inscription, which researchers say translated as “Pure for God.”

The find dates back from between the 1st century B.C. to 70 A.D, the period in which the second of two Jewish temples was destroyed by the Romans during the course of a Jewish revolt.

In a statement, the Israeli Antiquities Authority, which oversees archaeological excavations in the area, said it represented a first-of-its-kind discovery and constitutes “direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period.”

Haifa University archaeologist Ronny Reich, who has spent four decades digging around the Old City of Jerusalem, said the seal revealed details about some of the administrative procedures used by temple officials to oversee religious offerings.

"If you wanted to give a drink offering to the temple you went and bought an impressed seal from one person, a priest obviously, and then gave him the money,” Reich explained. “You went to the other man and received against this coupon lets call it a drink offering. And then went to the temple to offer it.”

The excavation is taking place beneath the religious compound know as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. The site is revered by both religions and previous archaeological activities in the area have sparked violent confrontations between Israeli and Palestinians.

At the press conference to announce the find, archaeologists were flanked by two government ministers from the right-wing Likud party who used the discovery to press Jewish claims of sovereignty over Jerusalem.

“The works of the digs are uncovering our roots,” said Education Minister Gideon Saar. “They could not be carried out if Israel was not the sovereign in control of Jerusalem and emphasized the work in this area.”

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, where the excavation is located, and Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

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Filed under: Archaeology •General •Israel •Jerusalem •Judaism •Palestinians •Religion •Video

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miriam   December 29th, 2011 12:43 pm ET

Unfortunately, claiming that the excavations which produced this find are taking place beneath the Temple Mount/ Noble Sanctuary is precisely the disinformation that triggers confrontation against Israel from throughout the Muslim world.

The excavations are taking place along the outside of the Western Wall close to the corner with the southern wall.

The only people excavating under the holy site is the Muslim Waqf which has spent years randomly digging with the aim of removing all evidence of Jewish history at the site. No international organization has protested and somewhat ironically, the dump site of the "waste" has revealed an abundance of archaeological finds.

The government of Israel is led by Likud and it is logical that the ruling party would be proud of such a significant find, regardless of their political position. Parties from the right to the left do not deny the right to Jewish sovereignty over their most holy site however hard the Arabs may try to baselessly claim their right to the area.

One can only hope that this misleading report has few readers who might use it as another excuse to demonize Israel and incite violence.

M I Schwartz   January 1st, 2012 1:57 am ET

Amazing that a 2000-year old discovery cannot be told without having a modern political story attached.

Perhaps the continued false and misleading position of the Palestinian leadership that there is no history of Jews in Jerusalem has something to do with the political position.

Perhaps the history of Arab sacrilege on the Temple Mount, and the active erasing of archeological evidence, and destruction of Jewish artifacts has something to do with this.

Only under Israeli control has a modicum of free access to the holy city of Jerusalem been maintained for all religions. The international community has been wrong not to recognize Jerusalem as the unified capital city of Israel.

Robert Widjaja   January 1st, 2012 12:14 pm ET

Hope this newly dicovered will conclude who owns the ancient Jerusalem.

sfg   January 4th, 2012 3:08 am ET

The Mu slim Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount, has conducted ongoing "excavations" there in order to destroy any Jewish connection to Jewrusalem. In addition, Mu slims are being buried there so as to prevent any future Jewish construction work in the area.

archaeologist education and job requirements   January 4th, 2012 9:10 am ET

This is the very interesting video. It is very much focusing on the rituals of the jews of ancient times.

Ancient Memory   January 11th, 2012 8:11 pm ET

The Roman Empire systematically destroyed the religious places, writings and documents of the Jewish people to discourage, intimidate, break their faith in God and subjugate them. These tactics, and worse, have been used from the beginning of time in an attempt by the agressor to rewrite history and represent the brutal conquerer as the beginning of the nation. Only the best hidden clues survive as proof of the true claims of sometimes scattered peoples. The Roman Empire used the same tactics on those who believed Jesus was the proof and fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of the Son of God, Redeemer, then diverted the Message. In these restless times of upheaval we must keep the proof and surrounding information safe for all generations of thuth and freedom seekers to know. Truth IS the pathway to free peace. Remember that evil hates truth and those who hold it dear.

Ancient Memory   January 11th, 2012 8:56 pm ET

Re: cause of above comment can enlighten all generations to come if thought on without bias or partisan politics. Patience and love can overcome anything, said my son last evening. I believe the same.

Aincient Memory   January 11th, 2012 9:08 pm ET

"overcome almost anything."

miriam   January 15th, 2012 2:42 pm ET

CNN, why is my comment from Dec 29th still awaiting moderation?
Why post anything on this blog if readers can't comment?

Joella Riseden   January 18th, 2012 11:17 am ET

Take pleasure in moral support! I want to give it a try.

kaushik   January 18th, 2012 3:30 pm ET

i agree with you . Same thing happened with the Indian subcontinent. When Islam came, it brought with it looting , plundering of the place, demolition of places of worship, conversion of women and children and killing of men. Then they changed names of towns, melted away local currencies, although some names stuck on. (Like Raval pindi- which is sanskrit is Raul Pindi'- the shiva.) Universities were burnt with students and libraries, so a great body of knowledge was lost.

kaushik   January 18th, 2012 3:33 pm ET

It was even easier for the Islamists because they had no gods, no idols to install, no architecture or no paintings to replace the old. They just had to destroy what was useless for them, and loot what they could.

kaushik   January 18th, 2012 3:37 pm ET

One magnificient monument withstood this carnage, its what we call Taj Mahal now. It was built much before Shahjahan, who just took it over from the Rajput king and defaced it in 13 years.
One day some technology will allow us to see what lies behind the 500 doors closed shut by govt. of india , and who knows it would be the greatest discovery in the century..!

KaraOK   January 19th, 2012 9:22 pm ET

Archaelogical Record – 1
Fakestinians 0

fred   March 18th, 2012 5:27 pm ET

The Palestinians should be allowed to excavate parts of today Israel as the land west of th Jordan river offers much more than a strictly Jewish history.

adilio   March 23rd, 2012 10:47 pm ET

Why do the commentors act as if the Muslim waqf is such a powerful and comtrollng entity? Israel controls every inch of the holy space because their racism and hatred of islam and fear of equality feed every aspect of their lives. They will bulldoze Muslim graves and constantly deny the existance of any Islamic history for their advantage. The red sea scrolls are a perfect example, stolen by the state of Israel because of greed and racism. Islam and Christianity hold just as much claim to the scrolls as the Jews but the sick racism of Israel denies that right in the name of Archaeology... what a joke!

miriam   March 25th, 2012 2:42 pm ET


Israel together with archaeologists from around the world excavate sites revealing all the history of the region.

Palestinians do a lot of excavating and do a good job at destroying all the history.

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