We are all facing troubled times. Here at the Temple Mount Sifting Project we have chosen to continue sifting, even without guests or volunteers. We want to keep the fire burning, a sort of eternal flame. The present situation is forcing all of us to minimize – much like the matzah that we will be eating for the coming week – and to focus on essentials. For now, we will prioritize our activities, and from this point, we will be ready to renew and expand after this challenging period.
Recently, we discovered a most rare clay sealing, not of the type that was attached to something else, but rather one that was handed out as a sort of redeemable token. Sealings of this type are known to us through a description appearing in the Mishnah in Tractate Shekalim (5:1-5). These sealings were mostly used during the Temple pilgrimages which took place on holidays – perhaps primarily during the Passover holiday – since they are mentioned in connection with the Temple wine libation offering.
At present, we still do not know what design or inscription appears on the sealings, since it is covered with residue and ash (perhaps due to the Temple destruction) and has been sent for specialized cleaning in a restoration lab. Two similarly shape sealings have been found in the past. One was discovered by our Sifting Project and bears a design of a wine jar (amphora) and an inscription in Greek. The second was found in soil taken from the ancient drainage channel near the Western Wall during the excavation carried out by Eli Shukrun and bears an inscription the meaning of which researchers are still deliberating.
We hope to soon be able to provide more details about this find, and about other important discoveries, which will bring some light to the gloomy situation in which we find ourselves.
Wishing you a happy holiday, and the achievement of true freedom.