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September 23, 2016 9:37 am

Evidence of Ancient Jewish Presence Found in Jordanian Church

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A menorah for Hanukkah. Photo: PugnoM via Creative Commons.

A Hanukkah menorah. Photo: PugnoM via Creative Commons.

JNS.org – 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, long thought to have a Jewish population, Haaretz reported.

The carving was found during excavations of the Byzantine church, which is estimated to have been built in the sixth or seventh century CE.

“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 have been repurposed from another structure, such as a synagogue. Similar carvings have been discovered on mosaic synagogue floors from the Late Antiquity period, from the late third century to the mid-seventh century BCE.

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