A Stamped Jar Handle Fragment

Jar Handle

Mailing a package, whether today or as far back as in ancient times, requires that the package bear certain markings: the place where the package originated or perhaps the name of the recipient.

However, what is written on the handle of this jug? After all the hard work collecting and sifting the archeological material on the Temple Mount, it isrgre somewhat disappointing to see that the ancient potter who produced this jug was a little sloppy and failed to leave us a clear and legible seal impression.

Fortunately, this is not the first time such a seal impression has been discovered and, through a comparison with similar stamps, we know what we are supposed to see when we look at this jug.

In this fragment of a jug handle, which was discovered in the Givati Parking Lot Excavation in the City of David, we can clearly see a five-pointed star in the center of the seal. However, the star is not the story here, but rather what is found between the points. If we look carefully at the seal, we make out a number of ancient Hebrew letters. To decipher the writing on the unclear seal impression of the fragment of the wine jug handle, we should look at this picture of an earring, whose production was inspired by the seal and which clearly bears the word “Y-R-SH-L-M,” that is, Yerushalayim, which is Hebrew for Jerusalem.

What did these seals signify? Archaeologists have not yet found an instruction manual entitled, “When and How to Use a Seal.” Thus, the debate continues unabated. Is the modern-day counterpart of this seal the words “Made in China” and did the jug contain wine or olive oil produced in Jerusalem? Or is the seal perhaps telling us that the wine or oil was produced somewhere else and sent to the capital, Jerusalem?

So far, the remnants of dozens of such jugs have been found throughout Israel. All of them date from the period of the Hasmonean kings. Approximately half of them have been discovered in Jerusalem and one was found in the sifting of debris from the Temple Mount.

Who knows? If we had found an intact jug and not just a jug handle, perhaps we would have found the remnants of wine and oil from the libations of the Temple in Jerusalem inside

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