Archaeologists have uncovered "magnificent" pieces of elaborate columns they believe were part of a royal palace in ancient Jerusalem.
According to Israel Antiquities Authority, experts believe the pieces are from the First Temple Period, which lasted from 960 B.C. to 586 B.C., beginning with the construction of the temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon and ending with the exile of Judah to Babylon in the sixth century B.C.
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The discovery was made during excavation at the Commissioner's Palace promenade, also known as the Governor's House, and was announced Thursday.
More from the Israel Antiquities Authority:
A rare, impressive, and very special collection of several dozen adorned architectural stone artifacts, which together were part of a magnificent structure, was discovered in the Antiquities Authority's excavations in preparation for the establishment of a visitor center on the promenade...
These stone artifacts are made of soft limestone, with decorative carvings, and among them are capitals of various sizes in the architectural style known as 'Proto-Aeolian' - one of the most significant royal building features of the First Temple period, and one of the visual symbols of the period. The importance of this artistic motif as a symbol representing the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel led the Bank of Israel to choose it as the image that adorns the five-shekel coin of the State of Israel. The unveiled collection includes, among other things, three complete medium-sized stone capitals and items from lavish window frames, incorporating balustrades composed of stylish columns on which a series of Proto-Aeolian style capitals of a tiny size were affixed.
Yaakov Billig, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's excavation, estimated the artifacts come from the time period between the reigns of King Hezekiah and King Josiah, and they indicate attempts at restoring Jerusalem after the Assyrian siege in the eighth century B.C.
"This is a very exciting discovery. This is a first-time discovery of scaled-down models of the giant Proto-Aeolian capitals, of the kind found thus far in the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel, where they were incorporated above the royal palace gates. The level of workmanship on these capitals is the best seen to date, and the degree of preservation of the items is rare," Billig said.
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