Earliest Known Depiction of Second Temple Lamp Uncovered

Discovery made during archeological excavation that unearthed 2,000-year-old synagogue in Galilee.

An artist who visited the Second Temple returned to his Galilee home some 2,000 years ago amazed by what he'd seen.

In a synagogue on Lake Kinneret's shores, he carved the candelabra he'd seen into a rock.

The stone and other discoveries were recently uncovered by an Israel Antiquities Authority dig near Moshava Migdal. The dig uncovered the earliest known synagogue dated to the days of the Second Temple.

The dig is intended as a salvage operation ahead of the construction of a hotel on a site owned by the Franciscan church.

The uncovered synagogue dates to 50 BC to 100 AD, and at its center the engraving of the seven-branched lamp, or menorah, "unlike any ever seen" according to workers at the site.

According the Antiquities Authority "starting with the beginning of the dig three weeks ago, we realized we had found something interesting. The findings at the site were also well preserved."

The synagogue's central hall measured 120 meters square and was surrounded by benches for attendees. On the floor was a mosaic and the walls were frescoed.

In the hall the square stone was uncovered, decorated with engravings on all four sides and tip.

One engraving includes the seven-branched lamp which stands on a single leg with a triangle base with vessels on either side.

"This is a very exciting and unique discovery, this is the first time a lamp engraving from the Second Temple age has been uncovered, the earliest lamp in a Jewish context, dated to the beginning of the Roman period," site director Dina Avshalom-Gorni said.

A representative the Fransiscan church-owned company planning the 122-room hotel also expressed joy at the discovery and stated it strengthens the church's resolve to establish an interdenominational dialogue center in the region.

The Antiquities Authority said the dig site is still closed to visitors.