The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is drawing to a close. At the time of this writing, it is the last day of Hanukkah 2017. But on this very day, news has gotten out about an ancient tomb found in Israel that has a menorah carved into it that offers us a glimpse into the incredible history of the Middle East and the religion that birthed Jesus Christ. The tomb door is reportedly crafted from basalt.
And at this very moment, it is undergoing the vital preservation work it needs to make sure it can stand the test of time and go on display to interested history buffs. It is on display right now at the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Back in 2010, the menorah decorated door was discovered in Tiberias, which is in Israel’s Galilee region. Archeologists from the university were the fortunate ones who found the tomb door, and although they discovered it years ago, they didn’t release the groundbreaking news to the public until just a few weeks ago. They were keeping their cards until the perfect moment when they could announce it was going on display.
Senior lecturer at Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Katia Cytryn-Silverman was the one to break the news to the world.
The professor leads the ongoing Tiberias excavation project. And she has expected the door to get the attention it has now that it has gone on display.
“As this happened toward the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah, which celebrates the liberation and the rededication of the Second Temple by the Maccabeans (second century BCE) and the miracle of the lasting oil, which burned in the Temple’s menorah for eight days – we decided to bring the finding to the public knowledge, as a good wish for Hanukkah and for the Holiday Season,” she told Fox News in an email.
As you can see from the photographs, the ancient tomb door is decorated with the menorah. It shows the seven branches of the ancient lighting device, which went on to be a symbol of the Jewish Temple.
“We found that the top step of a stairway leading to a small room was actually a portion of a basalt Jewish-tomb door,” Cytryn-Silverman said. “Such tomb doors, probably originating from the Jewish cemetery to the north of the classical city (of Tiberias) had already been brought to this area during the early eighth century, when the Umayyads transformed the simple mosque of the seventh century into a monumental mosque.”
The slab with the Jewish menorah was used as a pillar within the mosque.
“The fact that this is the one chosen for a top step is also challenging for our modern mind: was this a positive or negative appropriation of the menorah? Were they stepping on purpose? Did the room serve a special function? Were the inhabitants of the house actually aware of its importance? Was this just a beautiful ornamental piece?”
Despite the insights into the past, it is still difficult, if not impossible, to know everything.