Three hikers from the Israel Caving Club were exploring an ancient cistern in the south-central portion of the country during the holiday season when they reportedly uncovered something remarkable.
As reported by Haaretz, hikers Mickey Barkal, Sefi Givoni and Ido Meroz discovered a wall on which were carvings of both an 1,800-year-old seven-branched menorah and a 1,600-year-old cross.
“We began to look about and came upon this cave, which is extremely impressive with rock-carved niches and engravings on the wall,” Meroz later recalled to reporters. “Just before we were about to leave, we suddenly noticed an engraving that at first glance seemed to be a Hanukkah lamp.”
“When we realized that it was an ancient depiction of a menorah, we became very excited,” he continued. “It had quite a distinctive appearance. We left the cave and reported the discovery to the Israel Antiquities Authority.”
The trio reportedly also found another menorah that resembled an elongated key, as well as several other unidentified images.
According to Sa’ar Ganor, chief archaeologist of the IAA’s Ashkelon district, this remarkable discovery “substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of settlement (in the area) during the Second Temple period.”
“The menorah was probably etched in the cistern after it was hewn out of the bedrock — maybe by inhabitants of the Jewish settlement during the Second Temple period and at the time of (Shimon) Bar Kochba,” he said, referencing a Jewish leader who led a revolt against the Romans around 133-135 A.D.
“And the cross was etched later on, during the Byzantine period, most likely in the fourth century,” he added.
To watch a video of the hikers uncovering this discovery, play the video below:
H/T Fox News
Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you think about this amazing discovery by three Israeli hikers!