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2,700 Year Old Limestone

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have found a two-shekalim limestone weight dating from the First Temple period in Jerusalem, Israel.

The 2,700-year-old two-shekalim weight found in Jerusalem, Israel. Image credit: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 2,700-year-old two-shekalim weight found in Jerusalem, Israel. Image credit: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base,” said IAA archaeologists Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Dr. Tehillah Lieberman.

“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.”

One of the uses of the shekel weight system during the First Temple period was to collect an annual tax of half a shekel dedicated to the sacrifices and upkeep of the Temple.

According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.5 grams, thus a double shekel should have 23 grams — exactly as this weight does.

 

“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,” the researchers said.

“Coins were not yet in use during this period, therefore accuracy of the weights played a significant role in business.”

“Year-round and especially during the times of pilgrimage, the area at the foot of the Temple Mount was sure to be busy,” they added.

“Locals and pilgrims would have traded for sacrifices and offerings as well as for 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.”

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