Hikers discovered a rare engraving of a menorah and a cross in a water cistern in the Judean Hills, Israel. ancient limestone carvings date to late Roman and Byzantine periods.
The etchings were discovered as hikers were exploring the subterranean passages. After the discovery, archaeologists were able to date the menorah carving to the second century AD and the cross to the fourth century AD. The menorah, depicted on three legs and with seven arms represents the traditional candelabra that stood in the Second Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Modern menorahs typically have nine arms, eight representing the eight nights of Hanukkah, and one extra to hold the candle that lights all the others.
Other etchings were found on the walls as well but yet need to be identified. The area, known as the Judean Shephelah, contains numerous underground caves of which some were used as hideouts for renegade Jews during the uprising led by Simon bar Kokhba against the Roman invaders. Experts state that finding a menorah engraving is uncommon.
The hikers who discovered the engravings are said to receive ve a good citizenship certificate and will be invited to participate in the coming archaeological surveys that the Israel Antiquities Authority will conduct in the Judean hills.
(after Saar Ganor, Israel Antiquities Authority, The Times of Israel, Live Science & Arutz Sheva)