JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists uncovered a small ceramic bread stamp near the northern coastal city of Akko.
Archaeologists found the stamp during a pre-construction excavation at Horbat Uza east of Akko. Israeli law requires such excavations, this time before Israel National Roads Company begins laying train tracks in the area.
Authorities believe the 1,500-year-old stamp, decorated with the seven-branched Temple menorah (candelabra) and dating to Byzantine period (6th century AD), was used to mark baked goods for Jewish residents.
"A number of stamps bearing an image of a menorah are known from different collections. The Temple menorah, being a Jewish symbol par excellence, indicates the stamps belonged to Jews, unlike Christian bread stamps with the cross pattern, which were much more common in the Byzantine period," excavation co-directors Gilad Jaffe and Dr. Danny Syon said.
"The stamp is important because it proves that a Jewish community existed in the settlement of Uza in the Christian-Byzantine period. The presence of a Jewish settlement so close to Akko -- a region that was definitely Christian at this time -- constitutes an innovation in archaeological research," Syon added.
Earlier excavations in Horbat Uza uncovered a Shabbat (Sabbath) lamp and clay jars with menorah patterns painted on them, indicating it was a Jewish settlement.
Source: IAA press release