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10-year-old finds 3,000-year-old seal in Jerusalem


Russian tourist finds ancient seal while participating in the Temple Mount Sifting Project; it is the first of its kind ever found in Jerusalem.

Matvei Tcepliaev, a 10-year-old Russian tourist, recently made a discovery in Jerusalem many professional archaeologists could only dream about – a rare 3,000-year old seal from the First Temple era.

The seal was discovered at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Sifting Project. It probably belonged to a high-ranking figure who used it to sign letters and documents.

The sifting of the soil, carried out at the Emek Tzurim National Park in Jerusalem, has been going on for more than a decade under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University, in cooperation with the Ir David Foundation and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The project involves sifting through soil illegally removed from the Temple Mount during destructive excavations carried out by the Muslim Waqf at the end of the 90s.

“When my family and I visited Israel, we went on a trip to Jerusalem,” recounts Tcepliaev, “there were many interesting things but the most meaningful experience was the visit to the archaeological sifting. They explained to us what to do and we started working. After a while I found something hard, it was an old seal. I was really happy and I ran to the man in charge of the excavations to show him, he told me it was very old and it needed to be analyzed. It was a very joyous discovery.”

Hillel, the archaeologist who was there during the find said there was great excitement. “A family of tourists were sifting through the soil, when suddenly one of the workers called me excitedly and asked me to come urgently. To my astonishment and delight I noticed the seal. I immediately gathered everyone who was present and showed them the rare find. I also called my superiors and told them about it. I’ve been working at the site for almost ten years and this was the first time I had found this kind of seal, one so rare. For me it was really like finding a treasure.”



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