The Romans were again caught red handed looting the Jewish second Temple.
Historical sources describe the menorah looted by the Romans when they destroyed the Second Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70, as gold, as God instructed Moses in Exodus.
Thus, the recent discovery that a version of the menorah in a bas-relief on the Arch of Titus in the first century of the Roman Forum was originally painted rich yellow color should not be a surprise. But because the image faded to the color of the stone foundation after a long time – like so many other things in and around the Forum – a precise knowledge of their once brilliant pigmentation appears as an interesting revelation for historians and archaeologists.
“The Bible says it was gold, but the monument, as seen for centuries, said it was white,” said Steven Fine, director of the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project and a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University in New York, which is sponsoring the project. “Is not great to be much closer to the viewers of the first century and the second?”
The findings were made possible using the noninvasive readings spectrometry carried out on the arch this month.
“The advantage of this method is that it does not damage the monument,” said Cinzia Conti, the state archaeologist responsible for the arch. The monument is not only an important part of the physical history of Rome, but also “very important for the Jewish community,” she said.
The arch was opened in year 81, has two interior reliefs commemorating the Roman victory in Judea by Titus, a military commander and future emperor, and his father, the Emperor Vespasian, a decade earlier. A triumphal relief shows Titus in a chariot, and the other represents a procession in Rome with the spoils of the temple, including the menorah, and a table of the sacred and trumpets.
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