Rare stone box dating back 2K years on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for the 1st time

Researches believe the enigmatic stone box was used for commercial purposes

A rare discovery in the City of David is on display for the very first time at the Israel Museum in Jerusalam. 

This particular item is one that dates back 2,000 years. The rare enigmatic stone box was found by the Israel Antiquities Authority during excavations in the City of David. 

The box is carved from limestone and measures 30 x 30 centimeters in size. The box features nine equal-sized compartments, with blackened sides, indicating burning, according to a press release about the rare object. This burning could have been from the Great Jewish Revolt. 

A rare box found in the City of David

The discovery of this rare item in the City of David dates back nearly 2,000 years. (Zohar Shemesh, Israel Museum, Jerusalem )


The Great Jewish Revolt was from 66-70 CE. The rebellion in Judea was led by Jews fighting against the Roman Empire. 

Researchers predict that boxes like the one recently found were used for commercial reasons. 

"During the excavations of the Pilgrimage Road, where the box was discovered, many objects have been found testament to the flourishing commercial activity that took place alongside the road during the Second Temple period," Dr. Yuval Baruch and Ari Levy, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority said per the press release. 

The Pilgrimage Road excavations in the city of David

The ancient stone container was found during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David. (Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority)

"During the excavations we have uncovered ceramic and glass vessels, production and cooking facilities, various measuring tools, stone weights and coins. Together, these objects suggest that the road was connected to commercial activities such as a lively urban market. The Pilgrimage Road connecting the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount was the main thoroughfare of the city 2,000 years ago. It seems that the newly discovered box was related to this commercial activity that took place along the Pilgrimage Road," Barunch and Levy added. 


"It seems that the multi-compartment stone box from the City of David was related to the unique Jerusalem economy conducted in the shadow of the temple maintaining strict observance and in accordance with purity laws. Therefore, we can consider this box a distinctly Jerusalem find," Levy and Dr. Baruch concluded.

This is not the first time that a box has been discovered. Pieces of a box similar to the one recently found were discovered about 50 years ago by Nachman Avigad. 

Even though researchers point to commercial use as the purpose of a box like this, they still have questions about what exactly it was used for. 

Now, visitors can see the rare discovery on full display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The box on display at the Israel Museum archaeology gallery

Visitors can see the rare finding at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. (Zohar Shemesh, Israel Museum, Jerusalem )

"The box was found broken into pieces with parts missing. The fragments were brought to Victor Uziel, conservationist from the Israel Museum Artifact Conservation Laboratory which specializes in treatment and restoration of artifacts directly from the field. We placed the stone box on permanent display together with spectacular colorful frescos, chandeliers and magnificent pottery, stone and metal vessels from Jerusalem's luxury houses dating to the end of the Second Temple period - you are invited to come and see them."

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