Archaeologists Uncover a 2,000-Year-Old Jerusalem Marketplace

January 19, 2021 | Jonathan Laden
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As documented in the Talmud and Hebrew Bible, the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot—in the spring, summer, and fall, respectively—were pilgrimage holidays, when Jews throughout the Land of Israel, and even from the Diaspora, would visit the Temple and offer sacrifices. Jonathan Laden describes the recent discovery of remains of a market where these pilgrims might have made purchases on their way into Jerusalem:

Archaeologists have found rare 2,000-year-old measurement tools that indicate a major town square. [These include the] top of a table used to measure liquids. In the vicinity dozens of stone weights were also discovered.

The age of the artifacts and their location, along the path of the Pilgrimage Road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount, in the oldest part of Jerusalem known as the City of David, suggest that this was a main city square and market used by pilgrims . . . on their way to the Second Temple. . . . The pool’s usage 2,000 years ago is unclear; it might have provided cooking and drinking water to pilgrims, and may also have been used for ritual bathing prior to going to the Temple.

The agoranomos, the officer tasked with supervising measurements and weights for the conducting of trade in the city of Jerusalem, would have used both the stone weights and the measuring table as a standard to help traders calibrate their measurements. Weights were used to verify dry goods, and the measurement table for liquids. [This] is one of only three discovered from the time of the Second Temple.

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