Jerusalem has discovered a stunning 2,000-year-old lilac-amethyst-stone. It also includes the first known depiction ever of balsam, a plant that is featured in the Bible. 

It was once worn as a ring and has an unusual engraving of a bird, and a branch from five fruits. Experts from City of David Foundation found it during excavations of Western Wall foundations.

The branch that is engraved on the stone was made from an expensive plant that was used for perfume production. It is also featured prominently in the Bible as well as other records. 

The temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Experts believe this ring would have been dropped into the drainage channel decades earlier. 

It is the seal of the balsam and bird that makes it stand out. According to archaeologists, it is ‘nothing similar to other seals used at that time’ and’may have been the first illustration in the entire universe with an engraving of this famous plant’.  

A stunning 2,000-year-old lilac amethyst stone has been discovered in Jerusalem, including the first known depiction of balsam, a plant featured in the Bible

Jerusalem’s stunning 2,000-year old lilac amethyst stones have been discovered. This includes the first known depiction in stone form of balsam.


Commiphora gileadensis is also known as the Arabian Balsam Tree. It is a species that grows in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and southern Oman.

It can be found in southeast Egypt as well, although historians believe it may have been introduced into the region.

Other names include balms of Gilead or Mecca myrrh. 

The planet was famous for its expensive perfume, which was used to decorate the temple in the Second Temple period of ancient Jerusalem.   

The iridescent stone’s plant is also known by the names ‘persimmon’ or ‘balsam tree’. It has the scientific name ‘Commiphora gileadensis.  

Professor Shua Amorai Stark, an expert in engraved gemstones, said that stone stamps became more popular towards the end the Second Temple period.

“But, in most stamps with plant engravings that have been discovered, it is common for plants to be found in stamps: dates, olives, vines.

“But, on this stone seal we immediately noticed that it contains a fruit unlike any other fruits we have seen to date.”  

The plant was used to produce perfumes for the Temple as well as medicines and ointments.

Josephus, the historian, says Mark Antony gave valuable persimmon trees that belonged to King Herod to his love, Cleopatra.

Commentators have identified the persimmon as one of the gifts that Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

This unexpected discovery was made at the Emek Tzurim National Park, which is managed by the City of David. There remains are sifted and sorted by volunteers and archeologists.

The temple was destroyed around 70 CE, and experts say this ring would have been dropped by someone into the drainage channel in the decades before

Experts believe that the temple was destroyed in 70 CE. However, experts believe that this ring would have been dropped into the drainage channel by someone who had lived in the area for many decades.

The branch engraved on the stone was from an expensive plant used to make perfume for the temple, and is featured prominently in the Bible and other records

The stone has a branch engraved with a perfume-making plant. This plant is prominently featured in the Bible as well as other records.

Participants were sifting soil taken from excavations by Israel Antiquities Authority near the foundation stones of Western Wall. They came across the 2,000-year old tiny oval stone.

The seal is made out of precious amethyst in a range o colors of purple and lilac. A hole was created where a metal wire was inserted. This was used to wear the stone for a ring.

The oval stone seal measures only a third of an in.

The first engraving shows a bird, probably a dove, and next to it appears a long, round, thick branch with five fruits on it, thought to be the  persimmon perfume plant mentioned in the Bible, Talmud, and various other historical sources.

It would once have been worn as a ring, and includes an unusual engraving of a bird and a branch from a plant bearing five fruits, according to experts from the City of David Foundation, who found it during excavations of the Western Wall foundations

Experts from the City of David Foundation discovered it during excavations of the Western Wall foundations.

The plant featured on the iridescent stone is also known as the balsam tree or 'persimmon' and has the modern scientific name 'Commiphora gileadensis'

The iridescent stone’s plant is also known by the names ‘persimmon’ or ‘balsam tree’. It has the scientific name ‘Commiphora gileadensis.


The Second Temple was a Jewish holy construction that stood on Temple Mount, Jerusalem, from 516 BCE until 70 CE. 

According to the Hebrew Bible the Second Temple was built to replace Solomon’s Temple – The First Temple.

It is now known as the Second Temple period. 

It began as a small building that was built by exile groups of Jews returning from Babylon to the Levant.

The Second Temple was completely remodeled and refurbished during Herod the Great’s reign. 

Eli Shukron, an archaeologist from Eli Shukron, said that this seal may be the first to be discovered anywhere in the world with an engraving of the famous and precious plant.

‘The balsam plant is a positive symbol because beyond the fact that it was used to produce perfumes and medicines, was attributed magical and ceremonial properties and is one of the ingredients used for making the Temple incense during the Second Temple Period – which is when this seal was made.’

Professor Amorai Sternk believes that the dove is a positive symbol, since it symbolizes wealth, happiness, goodness, and success.

She stated that the engraving on the seal attests the identity of the owner of the ring, indicating that he was a Jew with sufficient means.

This is because the production and trade around persimmon was tightly controlled at the time by Jews living in the Dead Sea basin, where the fruit was grown. 

She explained, “It is possible that the seal owner was a man who owned an orchard of persimmons. When he came to the craftsman to make the ring for him it is possible that he brought a branch of the tree so that he could tell the craftsman what to carve on stone.”

Shukron stated that the research around the finds gives us a glimpse into the daily lives and times of the people who lived during the glory days of Jerusalem’s Second Temple.