JERUSALEM – The Israel Antiquities Authority said on Wednesday that archaeologists uncovered a tiny weighing stone dating from the First Temple era (c. 950 BCE – 587 BCE) during a dig in Zurim Valley next to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur.
According to the IAA, the weighing stone was found while examining archaeological soil that was taken from the foundations of Robinson’s Arch near the Western Wall and it is 3,000-years-old with ancient writing in Hebrew on its surface.
Weighing stones, known as “bekas,” were used on weighs as scales to determine the value of worshippers’ donations, the IAA statement said.
“Beka weights from the First Temple period are rare,” said IAA archaeologist Eli Shukron, as quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Shukron postulated that the beka maker likely committed a mental error in engraving the tiny stone by inscribing the stone in mirror script instead of on seals which resulted in the Hebrew words appearing backwards, going from left to right, instead of the normal way of writing Hebrew, which is right to left.
Shukron told Haaretz that the Israelites who lived in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago did not have or use coins, but instead paid taxes to the temple in silver. Coins would not make their appearance in ancient Israel until the arrival of Persian overlords later in the 5th century BCE.
The First Temple era is named after Solomon’s Temple, which was built, according to the Bible, in roughly 950 BCE and was constructed by King Solomon in order to host the Sancta Santorum.
According to Biblical and historical evidence, Soloman’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BCE.