Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old clay token used by pilgrims

A clay token unearthed by the Temple Mount Sifting Project, is believed to have served pilgrims exchanging offerings during the Passover festival 2,000-years-ago.

The token features a seal imprint depicting an amphora and an Ancient Greek inscription. Greek letters appear around the amphora which reads ΔΟΥ-ΛΟ[Υ] (DOULOU), the genitive of the personal name, Doulês.

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Doulês was a common name in parts of Thrace, Macedonia, and regions of the Black Sea, where during the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman periods was settled by communities of Jewish people.

Based on the form of the amphora, archaeologists from the Temple Mount Sifting Project suggest that the token dates from the second half of the first century AD and was likely carried by a pilgrim to the Temple Mount (approximately a century before the Second Temple’s destruction).

Unlike typical clay sealings known as bullae, the token is pinched on the back, indicating that it was intended to be handled rather than attached to a knot securing a document or container.

According to the researchers, the token is similar to another example found near Temple Mount, which bears an Aramaic inscription reading דכא/ליה and initially interpreted as “pure to God” by the archaeologists.

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“The Aramaic token adds further context for the Greek-inscribed token from the Temple Mount. Notably, it depicts a wine jar, aligning with the Mishnaic text that discusses nesachim, a term for the wine libation poured on the Temple altar and also used to refer generally to all the offering components. It is plausible that this token was intended for Greek-speaking pilgrims, possibly including Jews from the diaspora,” said the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Header Image Credit : Zachi Dvira

Sources : Temple Mount Sifting Project

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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