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An engraved lilac amethyst seal depicting a biblical balsam tree was recently discovered along the “Pilgrim Way” in Jerusalem, the road that connected the Shiloah Pool with the Temple Mount. It had apparently fallen into the underground drainage channel 2000 years ago. The small stone seal depicts a bird and a branch with five fruits, which scholars believe to be the image of a biblical balsam tree, also known as the “Balm of Gilead” or “persimmon” in later periods. This is the first-known visual depiction discovered to-date. The “Balm of Gilead” was used in the ancient world to produce perfumes, incense, and medicines, and was known to be a component of the favorite perfume of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Excavator, Eli Shukron, was quoted as saying, “This is an important find because it may be the first time a seal has been discovered in the entire world with an engraving of the precious and famous plant, which until now we could only read about in historical descriptions.”




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