Archaeologists in Israel announced Wednesday the discovery of a rare, ancient bronze oil lamp dating from the first and second centuries in the City of David National Park.
The lamp, which was meant to bring good fortune, was discovered during an excavation along the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. The bronze oil lamp is built like a cut-in-half face.
The dig was carried out in the Jerusalem Walls City of David National Park by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Archaeologists Ari Levy and Yuval Baruch said the lamp, discovered in the foundations of a building on the road, was intentionally placed there to bring good fortune to people who lived there.
“The offering of this lamp may attest to the importance of the building, which may have been linked to the protection of the Siloam Pool, the city’s primary water source,” Levy and Baruch said in a statement.
At its creation, the lamp was poured into a sculpted mold that was shaped like half a face belonging to a bearded man with a “grotesque” appearance, the researchers said. The tip is shaped like a crescent moon and the handle like the Acanthus plant.
The lamp’s decoration is reminiscent of a common Roman artistic motif, similar to a theatrical mask.
“Foundation deposits were prevalent in the ancient world, and were intended for luck, and to ensure the continued existence of the building and its occupants,” Baruch and Levy added. “And they were usually buried under the floors of buildings or foundations.”
“The building where the lamp was discovered was built directly on top of the Pilgrimage Road at the end of the Second Temple period. The construction of such a massive structure in the period after the destruction of Jewish Jerusalem demonstrates the importance of the area even after the destruction of the Second Temple.”
Baruch said only a few such lamps have been found before, and the one they found is the first of its kind in Jerusalem.