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Tuesday, April 5, 2016
[With video] Israel Antiquities Authority: Special Bronze Implements were Discovered in Archaeological Excavations at Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee

Press Release
Special Bronze Implements were Discovered in Archaeological Excavations at
Magdala – a 2,000 Year Old Jewish Settlement on the Sea of Galilee
Click here for a short video clip Photo: EYECON, courtesy of the Israel
Antiquities Authority

A decorated bronze incense shovel (used for transferring embers from place
to place) and a bronze jug were recently uncovered in archaeological
excavations in Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The
Israel Antiquities Authority is leading archaeological excavations slated
for the construction of a guesthouse at Magdala. The land is owned by Arke
New Gate.

The Hebrew word for incense shovel is mahta, which is derived from the
action of raking or gathering embers, and is mentioned in the Bible in
Exodus 27:1–3: “You shall make the altar…you shall make pots for it to
receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans; all its
utensils you shall make of bronze”. The mahta is thought to have been a
sacred implement like the rest of the items that were utilized in the Temple
where it was mainly used for transferring embers from place to place.
Incense shovels frequently appear in Jewish art as one of the religious
articles associated with the Temple, and they have been depicted on mosaic
floors of synagogues alongside the menorah, lulav and etrog.

According to Dina Avshalom-Gorni, theChief archaeologist on behalf of the
Israel Antiquities Authority, “The incense shovel that was found is one of
ten others that are known in the country from the Second Temple period.From
early research in the world it was thought that the incense shovel was only
used for ritual purposes, care for the embers and incense that were burnt in
ritual ceremonies. Over the years, after incense shovels were also
discovered in non-cultic context, apparently were also used as tools for
daily tasks. The incense shovel and jug found in our excavation were exposed
lying next to each other on the floor in one of the room, at the storehouses
that is locate adjacent the dock of a large Jewish settlement, on the shore
of Sea of ??Galilee, in the late Second Temple period. These implements
might have been saved in the storeroom as heirlooms by a Jewish family
living at Magdala, or they may have been used for daily work as well”.

In recent years the Israel Antiquities Authority has been leading extensive
excavations at the site, overseen by the archaeologists Dina Avshalom-Gorni
and Arfan Najar, in partnership with the Anahuac University of Mexico, led
by the Mexican Archaeologist, Dr. Marcela Zapata-Meza. During the
archaeological dig at Magdala, a Jewish settlement dating to the time of the
Second Temple was exposed, uncovering, Jewish ritual baths (miqwe’ot),
streets, a marketplace and industrial facilities, as well as a synagogue
whose walls were decorated with colored plaster and mosaics floor along the
pavement. In the middle of the synagogue’s main hall a stone was uncovered,
well-known as the Magdala Stone, depicting the Second Temple of Jerusalem,
within a carved seven-branched menorah (candelabrum) on one of its sides
ever founded. The synagogue is dated to the early first century CE, Second
Temple Period and Jesus' Public Ministry around Galilee. The synagogue is
one of the seventh oldest synagogues from this period uncovered so far in

According to Eyad Bisharat, who supervised the work in the excavation area
on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The volunteers were
absolutely thrilled. They simply could not calm down knowing that these
artifacts had been waiting just below the surface for 2,000 years. Even we
veteran excavators were extremely excited because it’s not every day that
one uncovers such rare artifacts as these, and in such a fine state of

According Arfan Najar, Archaeologist leading the excavations on behalf of
the Israel Antiquities Authority, “A similar incense shovel and jug as those
found here in Migdal were discovered by Yigael Yadin in a cache dating to
the time of the Bar Kokhba uprising which was revealed in the Cave of the
Letters in the Judean Desert. Incense shovels have also been found in the
Galilee at Bethsaida, Taiyaba and in Wadi Hammam, and across the country,
but all-in-all this is a very rare find”.

The excavation season was located alongside the pier of the large Jewish
settlement of Magdala. Volunteers from Chile, Mexico, Italy and Spain came
to Magdala in order to help and continue the excavations at the site. Next
summer, a group of volunteers and students from Mexico will continue digging
on the southern area of the site and restoring remains of discoveries along
the excavations.

Magdala is already open daily to the public and visitors can tour the
remains of a first century Jewish town and Duc In Altum, a new prayer center
at the site. The site is considered as the crossroads of Jewish and
Christian History for its historical and religious significance for Jews and
Christians. www.magdala.org

About Magdala

The site is located near the town of Migdal along the western shore of Sea
of Galilee. Migdal (its Greek name is Taricheae, meaning “place where fish
are salted” – possibly alluding to the main source of income of the city’s
inhabitants 2,000 years ago) was a large Jewish settlement in the Early
Roman period. It is mentioned in Jewish sources, and at the time of the
destruction of the Second Temple it served as Josephus’ main military base
in his war against the Romans in the Galilee. Evidence of Migdal’s existence
is also found in historical and Christian sources, where according to
Christian tradition this was the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle
of the apostles of Jesus. According to the Gospel of Luke, "Mary, called
Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out...”, follows Jesus until His
crucifixion and according to John´s Gospel became the first witness of His

Click here for a short video clip Photo: EYECON, courtesy of the Israel
Antiquities Authority

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