2,000-Year-Old Oil Lamp Shaped Like a Grotesque Face is Discovered in Jerusalem’s City of David

A bronze oil lamp discovered in the foundations of a Roman-Era building in Jerusalem’s City of David Pilgrimage Road, May 2021. (Koby Harati/City of David)

Archaeologists have discovered a rare oil lamp, shaped like a grotesque face cut in half, at the foundation of a building erected in Jerusalem’s City of David shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago.

It is the first finding of its kind in Israel, and one of just a few worldwide.

Israel Antiquities Authority researchers said in a statement Wednesday that they believe the bronze lamp was used as a foundation deposit — a ritual burial of an offering — to bring good fortune to the Roman Period building’s residents. It is estimated to be from the late 1st century or the early 2nd century CE.

The finding, in the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road, also included the lamp’s wick, which was unusually well-preserved.

The Pilgrimage Road was used by Jewish pilgrims 2,000 years ago when they visited Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.

“The offering of this lamp may attest to the importance of the building, which may have been linked to the protection of the Siloam Pool, the city’s primary water source,” said Dr. Yuval Baruch and Ari Levy, according to the IAA statement.

“This lamp is a very unique find, and as far as we know, the first of its kind discovered in Israel,” they were quoted as saying. “The uniqueness of the current object is that it is only half a face.”

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SOURCE: The Times of Israel, Michael Bachner

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