Monday, November 20, 2006

At Mideast holy site, what is treasure?
Among finds that have emerged are a coin struck during the Jewish revolt against the Romans, arrowheads shot by Babylonian archers and by Roman siege machinery, Christian charms, a 3,300-year-old fragment of Egyptian alabaster, Bronze Age flint instruments, and - the prize discovery - the imprint of a seal possibly linked to a priestly Jewish family mentioned in the Old Testament's Book of Jeremiah.

And the finds keep coming. On a drizzly November morning, Gabriel Barkay, the veteran biblical archaeologist who runs the dig, sat in a tent near the mounds examining some newly discovered coins stamped by various Holy Land powers: the Hasmonean dynasty of Jewish kings more than 2,000 years ago, a Roman procurator around the time of Pontius Pilate, the early Christians of the Byzantine Empire, two Islamic dynasties and the British in the 20th century.