A very rare 2,000-year-old gem seal depicting the Greek god Apollo has been discovered in Jerusalem. Interestingly, experts have stated that whoever owned it probably wasn’t Greek or Roman and that they were more than likely Jewish.
In a statement, Eli Shukron, who is an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority and a tour guide at the City of David archaeological park, stated, “It is rare to find seal remains bearing the image of the god Apollo at sites identified with the Jewish population,” adding, “When we found the gem, we asked ourselves 'What is Apollo doing in Jerusalem? And why would a Jew wear a ring with the portrait of a foreign god?'”
In a City of David video, Shukron went into further details by explaining, “I don't think he believed in the god Apollo,” adding, “But he believed in the virtues that the god Apollo offered; light, purity, health, success, which are very, very positive attributes — very, very conventional. Everyone wants to have them.”
The carved dark brown jasper stone was found by visitors to the City of David but were supervised by archaeologists. It was discovered in the soil that had once been the foundation of the Western Wall which surrounded the Second Temple until the Romans destroyed it back in 70 AD.
The gem seal (also known as an intaglio) is oval in shape and is quite small, measuring 0.5 inches in length, 0.4 inches in width, and 0.1 inches in thickness (or 13 by 10 by 3 millimeters). The upper side of the gem is carved with the face of Apollo with his long hair, large nose, thick lips, and a prominent chin over a wide neck. The gem dates back to the Second Temple period which was between the years 516 BC to 70 AD. And it is very rare as it is only the third one that’s ever been discovered.
As for its purpose, archaeologists believe that the carved jasper gem was probably attached to a ring and was used as a stamp on beeswax for people’s signatures on different types of documents.
Several pictures of the carved gem seal can be seen here.