Ancient wine measuring table found

A rare 2,000 year-old ‘wine measuring table’ has been unearthed in Jerusalem at a site that may have been part of the main ancient marketplace on the route to Temple Mount.

Photo credit: IAA

The chunk of stone was found by archaeologists in the City of David National Park between the Old City and Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan.

The lead archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority that conducted the dig, believe the site may be the location of ancient Jerusalem’s main agora – or marketplace.

The stone ‘table’ would have had a series of indentations in it – only one of which is complete today – of varying measured volumes and would have been used by the Roman inspector of weights and measurements – the agoranomos.

The stone table would have been placed in a prominent place in the agora and merchants would be expected to turn up – possibly picked at random – to show they were selling the correct measurements, ensuring good practice.

Each measuring dip had a small hole at the bottom which would allow the liquid to be drained out afterwards.

As the agora was on the main route to the great temple, it would have received a lot of traffic from pilgrims and was potentially a very lucrative place to do business.

The Roman rulers of ancient Israel/Palestine in turn will have been keen to ensure they received their correct proportion of tax in return.

Only two other such tables have ever been found in Jerusalem.

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