First Temple Period Two Shekel Weight Discovered in Jerusalem’s Old City
i24News – Archaeologists working on an excavation project in Jerusalem’s Old City recently discovered a 2,700-year old limestone weight, which approximately correlated to the known weight of two shekels.
The weight – which derives from the Iron Age and coincides with the First Temple period – was retrieved during sifting of earthen fills from the City of David sifting project; conducted under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority and in conjunction with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation beneath Wilson’s Arch.
According to Dr Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base. On the top of the weight is an incised Egyptian symbol resembling a Greek gamma (γ), representing the abbreviated unit ‘shekel.’ This weight weighs 23 grams and we know from earlier finds in Jerusalem that a single weight weighed 11.5 grams.”
Using accurate weights was important for business during the First Temple period as coins were still not in use. At busy times of the year, such as the three pilgrim festivals (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot) when Jerusalem would be full of people, being able to rely on an exact weight ensured that a system of barter and exchange continued to function.
Several stone rows of the Western Wall were exposed during previous archaeological excavations under Wilson’s Arch. The stones had been covered with earthen fills for some 1,800 years.