Rhodian Seal

Rhodian Seal

A unique archaeological find from the Temple Mount that dates from the reign of Antiochus, the seal stamped on the handle of a wine amphora is direct evidence of Greek rule in the area. The find was discovered at Emek Tzurim in the Temple Mount Sifting project.

Archaeologists discovered the handle of a wine amphora that bore the round stamp of the Isle of Rhodes while sifting the archeological material from the Temple Mount. The stamp shows the rose symbol of the Isles of Rhodes and the following Greek inscription appears in the circle surrounding the rose: Ἐπὶ Θεαιδ̣[ήτου Ὑ]ακινθίου – in the year [of the reign of the eponym] Thaiaditus [in the month of] Hyancinthius.” The eponym, in this case Thaiaditus, was a high-ranking official whose year of office is named after him. The stamp dates from between 175 and 170 B.C.E., the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who looted the treasury of the Temple in Jerusalem and who attempted to introduce idol worship in the Temple. The stamp might be connected to the construction of the fortress of the Seleucid garrison in Jerusalem. The fortress, which was called the Acra, was constructed in the vicinity of the Temple Mount a short while after the stamping of the seal. This Rhodian seal impression belongs to the group of some 1,200 Rhodian and other seal impressions on wine jugs imported from the Greek Islands that were discovered in various excavations in Jerusalem. In this context, it should be pointed out that there are those who believe that the Acra Fortress stood in the southeastern section of the Temple Mount, adjacent to the area that the debris we sift through comes from. The wine jug apparently reached ancient Palestine from the Isle of Rhodes and contained wine that was used in libations. The wine was thus not kosher and could not be consumed by Jews; perhaps it was intended for the soldiers in the Acra Fortress.

The Rhodian seal impression discovered on the Temple Mount is a moving archaeological find that is connected to the battles fought by Judah Maccabee and his soldiers for the purification of the Temple; they re-inaugurated the Temple after capturing it from the Seleucid-Greeks and purified it. Among the shards we have discovered, we have found additional shards of Rhodian amphorae dating back to the Hellenistic period; however, so far we have only discovered one seal impression.

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