A two-shekel weight dating to the First-Temple Period was recently discovered in material from excavations carried out beneath Wilson’s Arch near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. It was found in debris that was likely part of the fill used to backfill the foundations of the Temple Mount when Herod the Great expanded the Temple. While it was missed in the initial excavations, the artifact was discovered through the important secondary process of wet-sifting. The round weight-stone is inscribed with an Egyptian symbol which resembles the Greek letter gamma (representing a shekel), as well as two parallel lines, indicating that is was a double-weight. Previous discoveries have demonstrated that the weight of a shekel was 11.5 grams, and this double shekel is indeed twice that amount, weighing 23 grams. Given the use of the shekel in matters related to the temple, this discovery is yet more evidence that the temple was located on the Temple Mount. It also indicates that there was likely a market near the Temple where people who had come to worship purchased sacrificial animals and other items. Dr. Scott Stripling, the Director of ABR’s excavations at Shiloh commented, “I applaud the IAA for wet sifting the soil before discarding it. Had this not occurred, this weight would have been discarded. Sadly, most small finds from archaeological excavations are discarded because of archaic methodology.” ABR’s dig at Shiloh makes extensive use of wet-sifting and has demonstrated the importance of this technology in modern archaeological excavations.
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