During an excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, archaeologists unearthed an ancient limestone-weight dating to the first temple period. The two-shekel weight was discovered near the Western Wall (the Kotel) beneath Wilson’s Arch in Jerusalem.
The weight, which corresponds to the measurement unit of two shekalim, was uncovered during the City of David sifting project. According to the directors of the excavation project, “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.’ Two incised lines indicate the double mass: two shekalim,” Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman said.
The project directors further explained that the shekel weight system was heavily used during the First Temple period. It was employed to collect yearly taxes dedicated to the sacrifices and preservation of the Temple.
“According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.5 grams, thus a double shekel should weigh 23 grams – exactly as this weight does,” Monnickendam-Givon and Lieberman said.
“The accuracy of the weight attests to advanced technological skills as well as to the weight given to precise trade and commerce in ancient Jerusalem. Coins were not yet in use during this period, therefore the accuracy of the weights played a significant role in business,” they added.
The area at the foot of the Temple was very busy during the year, especially around the times of the three pilgrimage holidays — Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. People would have traded for sacrifices, offerings, food, souvenirs, and “other commodities.”
“A weight such as the one discovered would have been used to measure accurate amounts of products at the market,” the project directors said.
Mordechai Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, was elated at the discovery.
“How exciting, in the month of Tishrei, whose symbol is the scales of justice, to find a souvenir from the First Temple period,” he remarked. “This finding strengthens the eternal connection between the Jewish nation, Jerusalem, and the Western Wall while offering us all encouragement.”
Dr. Monnickendam-Givon and Lieberman added that the renewed excavation, which previously exposed several stone rows of the Western Wall, continues the archaeologists’ previous discoveries.
“The unique finding from the First Temple Period, discovered in a context dating several centuries later to the Roman period, indicates that the area of the Western Wall encapsulates various remains from a wide range of periods reflecting the centrality of the area for many centuries,” the doctors explained.