Israeli archaeologists announced Wednesday the discovery of a 1,500-year-old mother-of-pearl tablet etched with a menorah in the ancient town of Caesarea.
According to Israel Antiques Authority archaeologist Peter Gendelman, the tablet, dating back to the late Roman-Byzantine period of the 4th or 5th centuries A.D., “points to clear Jewish presence at Caesarea during this period.”
Archaeologists speculate that the pearl menorah tablet was likely part of a structure used to hold a Torah scroll. The slab was uncovered near the temple devoted to Augustus Caesar, constructed by King Herod in the 1st century B.C.
The discovery was made in early April, a few days before Passover, and was publicized as part of a press conference Wednesday regarding a new $30 million renovation project in Caesarea.
The artifact is the first archaeological discovery of its kind made from mother-of-pearl, a smooth and shiny substance forming the inner layer of the shell of some mollusks.