01 Dec, 2020

A menorah carving found in a 1,400-year-old Byzantine church in Jordan provides the first substantial evidence of Jewish presence in the ancient city of Abila, which has long thought to have a Jewish population, Haaretz reported.

The seven-branched menorah with a three-legged branch was carved on a stone block found in the second tier of a wall in the church, while excavating the Byzantine church from the sixth or seventh century C.E.

“This is the first physical evidence of a Jewish presence at Abila, and holds great promise that further discoveries will give more evidence in this direction,” said Dave Vila, head of the excavations.

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Archaeologists can only confirm that the menorah carving predates the church which is 1,300-1,400 years old.

The stone block is believed to be repurposed from another structure, such as a synagogue. Menorahs similar to this carving are often discovered on mosaic synagogue floors from the Late Antiquity period, from the late third century A.D. to the mid-seventh century A.D.