A Two-Millennium-Old Box from Jerusalem’s Pilgrims’ Market

This week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that an ancient limestone box has gone on display at the Israel museum, which archaeologists believe was used by a merchant for displaying items for sale to pilgrims coming to visit the Second Temple. Gavriel Friske writes:

The square box, 30 centimeters (1 foot) on a side and thought to be 2,000 years old, is divided into nine internal compartments and was discovered about two years ago “in a destruction layer inside an ancient store dated to the end of the Second Temple period that once stood alongside the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David,” according to a press release. The sides of the box are blackened, indicating that it was burnt “perhaps during events of the Great Jewish Revolt [66–72 CE], which ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem,” the notice said.

Excavations in the same area have revealed a myriad of objects linked to commercial activities and a busy city market, including glass and ceramic vessels, weights, coins, measuring tools, and manufacturing and cooking facilities, a “testament to the flourishing commercial activity that took place alongside the road during the Second Temple period,” the archaeologists said.

Thousands of fragments of ancient limestone vessels have been uncovered in Jerusalem. Jewish law indicates that stone vessels cannot become impure, unlike metal or clay, explaining their widespread use in the city.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Second Temple


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security