During the period of Roman rule, there was a significant Jewish population, dating back to biblical times, east of the Jordan River. Archaeologists have now uncovered a trace of the Jews of the ancient city of Abila, located south of the Yarmouk River, near Jordan’s border with Syria. Philippe Bohstrom writes:
A menorah carved on a stone block, found in a 1,400-year-old Byzantine church in Abila, Jordan is the first tangible evidence of a Jewish presence in the ancient Hellenistic city. . . .
[I]n 36 years of excavations at Tel al-Abila, also known as Seleucia, no traces of Jews living in this Roman trading hub had been found before. The depiction of the seven-branched menorah, with a branching three-legged base, was found on a stone in the second tier of a wall, near the floor, while excavating a Byzantine church from the 6th or 7th century CE. . . .
The stone block with the menorah carving was almost certainly . . . repurposed from another structure, probably a synagogue. Since it was not found in its original site, the date of the menorah cannot be ascertained. But it has to predate the construction of the church.