Daily Israel Report

Byzantine Prayer Box Found in Jerusalem Dig

Miniature box adorned with cross dates from 6-7 century CE. Contained two icons surrounded by gold leaf.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/27/2011, 9:07 PM

Byzantine prayer box
Byzantine prayer box
IAA / Clara Amit

 

Archaeologists in Jerusalem discovered a miniature Christian prayer box that dates back to the sixth or seventh century CE.

The box was found at the "Givati parking lot" dig in Ir David. Dig supervisors noted that illustrated Byzantine holy objects are very rarely found in the Holy Land.

The box contained two icon paintings surrounded by gold leaf and was probably a personal prayer object. It is 2.2 cm. (about 0.9 inch) long by 1.6 cm. wide and is made from the bone of a large animal – cattle, a camel or a horse.

The find was presented by dig supervisor Yana Tchekhanovets, along with Israel Antiquities Authority's Dr. Doron Ben Ami.

One painting inside the box depicts a bearded man with dark hair, wearing what appears to be a white tunic. The other painting seems to show a female figure dressed in blue. Similar boxes were found on bodies discovered in burial caves in the Moshchevaya Balka site in the northern Caucasus.



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