Veteran archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced just yesterday the discovery of a golden treasure in ancient Jerusalem. Digging in the Ophel, the area located between the Temple Mount and the City of David, Mazar’s team discovered two caches of gold and silver coins and artifacts, the third such gold horde to be discovered in Jerusalem.

Photo Credit: Ouria Tadmor

Photo Credit: Ouria Tadmor

The most outstanding feature of this find is a large circular golden medallion featuring the design of the Menorah, the lantern which was kindled in the Holy Temple and the Mishkan. To the left of the Menorah a small engraving of a Shofar and to it’s right a Torah Scroll. Mazar suspects that this large medallion served as an ornament for a Torah Scroll, perhaps its choshen or breastplate.

Photo Credit: Ouria Tadmor

Photo Credit: Ouria Tadmor

A horde of 36 gold coins was found with the medallion. They were stamped with the faces of Byzantine rulers ranging from the 4th – 7th centuries CE, which fact led Mazar to surmise that the medallion was commissioned following the 614 CE Persian conquest of Israel. The Persians had at first allied with local Jewish residents, creating a spirit of Messianic expectation. It was a result of this sentiment, reasons Mazar, that this gold piece was formed and the gold coins collected, to serve a synagogue to be built on or near the Temple Mount.

The hordes were found buried underground, suggesting that they were secreted away in a time of crisis. Indeed, history shows that the Persians shifted their allegiance from the Jews to the Christians, dashing any hope for rebuilding in those days.