Ancient Jerusalem hand imprint baffles Israeli experts

Published January 26, 2023
A handout picture provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority shows a hand imprint that was discovered carved into a 1,000-year-old dry moat which surrounded Jerusalem’s old quarter.—AFP
A handout picture provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority shows a hand imprint that was discovered carved into a 1,000-year-old dry moat which surrounded Jerusalem’s old quarter.—AFP

JERUSALEM: Israeli archaeologists said on Wednesday they were trying to uncover the meaning of a recently discovered hand imprint carved into the stone wall of an ancient moat outside Jerusalem’s old quarter.

The imprint, which may been made as a “prank”, was found in a thousand-year-old moat exposed during works to expand a road in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem near Herod’s Gate, Israel’s antiquities department said.

The massive moat was hewn into the stone around the entire old city, stretching 10 metres across and between two to seven metres deep and, unlike typical European ones, not filled with water.

According to Israeli officials, Crusaders needed five weeks in 1099 to cross it and breach the city’s walls and defences.

While the moat’s function was clear, the hand’s meaning was elusive.

“It’s a mystery, we tried to solve it,” excavation director Zubair Adawi said in a statement. Archaeologists remained uncertain who carved the hand into the rock or its significance.

The moat and hand have been covered to enable the continued infrastructure works just below the walls that currently surround the city, built in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2023

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