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      Netanyahu Hails 'Magnificent' Archaeological Find in Jerusalem

      Ancient golden treasure is the oldest Torah ornament ever found and "attests to the ancient Jewish presence" in Jerusalem.
      By Kochava Rozenbaum
      First Publish: 9/10/2013, 8:53 AM

      Golden medallion unearthed at Ophel dig
      Golden medallion unearthed at Ophel dig
      Uria Tadmor / Eilat Mazar

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has hailed the discovery of one of the oldest Torah ornament ever found in archaeological digs as a "wonderful gift to the Jewish people."

      Yesterday, after the archaeologists found an ancient golden medallion at the the foot of the Temple Mount, Prime Minister Netanyahu contacted Hebrew University's Dr. Eilat Mazar, who made the stunning discovery of two bundles of treasure containing thirty-six gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion with the menorah (Temple candelabrum) symbol etched into it. Also etched into the 10-cm medallion are a shofar (ram’s horn) and the image of a Torah scroll.

      The Prime Minister said, "This is a magnificent discovery. Nationally, it attests to the ancient Jewish presence and to the sanctity of the place; this is as clear as the sun and it is tremendous."

      Netanyahu continued to praise the discovery by saying, "This is very moving. This find is the essence of our heritage." 

      "It is interesting that even then, over 500 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, we see the menorah in an original illustration. This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish People's link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage – menorah, shofar, Torah scroll. The essence of the Jewish People could not be any more succinct and clear. This is a wonderful gift to the Jewish People. Thank you."

      Responding to the Prime Minister's unexpected call, Dr. Mazar said, "We do not always witness an archaeological find that speaks so clearly. The archaeological work was outstanding. It was very professional. This cannot be denied. I thank you personally. I am moved by your interest and involvement in antiquities and heritage."

      The discovery was unearthed just five days into Mazar’s latest phase of the Ophel excavations, and can be dated to the late Byzantine period (early seventh century CE).  The gold treasure was discovered in a ruined Byzantine public structure a mere 50 meters from the Temple Mount’s southern wall.

      Earlier this year, Mazar’s Ophel excavation made headlines when she announced the 2012 discovery of an ancient Canaanite inscription (recently identified as Hebrew) - the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in Jerusalem.