Hiking in northern Israel last week, a mother and her daughter discovered a clay oil lamp that experts have dated approximately to the 2nd century BCE—around the time of the Maccabees’ revolt against Greek rule. Daniel Eisenbud reports:
While making their way through the mounds near the historic area by the Jordan River Valley one week ago, Hadas Goldberg-Kedar, age seven, and her mother, Ayelet, first noticed the well-preserved pottery vessel near the entrance to a porcupine cave. Ayelet assumed the relic was left by antiquities thieves and contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit to report the find.
In short order, Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the unit—which is dispersed throughout the country to prevent thieves from looting excavation sites—arrived and examined the lamp. [He] determined that the porcupine uncovered the rare find while digging its enclosure for the winter. . . .
“During this period, clay oil lamps began to be produced in formations: the upper and lower parts were produced separately and were then joined together,” said Einat Ambar-Armon [of the Israel Antiquities Authority]. “The new technique enabled the mass production of oil lamps, as well as the addition of a variety of decorations. In later periods, candles and other Jewish decorations sometimes appeared on the oil lamps.”
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