Israeli archaeologists on Monday unveiled a 2,000-year-old measuring table, attesting to the presence of an ancient market near the Temple Mount, the sacred site of Judaism, in Jerusalem.
The measurement table is a rare item since it is the third to have been discovered in this area of central Jerusalem, says Ari Levy, one of the excavation directors of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“So far, excavations in Jerusalem have uncovered only two similar tables that have been used to measure volumes: one in the 1970s in Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter, and another in excavations at Shuafat, in northern Jerusalem,” explains archaeologist Ronny Reich.
The stone table unveiled on Monday was used to create standardized units of measurement for liquids such as wine and olive oil and belonged to the prefect of the market, Levy adds.
“Traders at the market needed a standardized unit of measure, and when they wanted to make sure they were all working with the same one, they went to see the Agoranomos, the man in charge of the market, a function common in several cities of the “Roman Empire. Thanks to this table, traders knew how many litres of olive oil they sold, for example,” Levy explains.
This discovery “is a proof that there were commercial activities since the only person who had this kind of instruments was the governor of the market”, he emphasizes.
“Until recently we had ignored that there had been an ancient market at this location. The discovery of this market helps us to reconstruct the Jewish and Roman history of Jerusalem,” Levy summarizes.
The excavations are managed by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park.
The City of David extends at the foot of the ramparts of the Old City to Silwan, a Palestinian quarter in East Jerusalem.