Biblical Archaeology Review 16:1, January/February 1990
1990 Excavation Opportunities

Prize Find: Pomegranate Scepters and Incense Stand with Pomegranates Found in Priest’s Grave

By Michal Artzy

BAR recently published a beautifully carved ivory pomegranate with an important inscription on it.a As partially reconstructed, the engraved inscription around the neck of the pomegranate reads as follows: “Belonging to the House of Yahweh, Holy to the Priests.” Based on this reading, many scholars have concluded that the ivory pomegranate originally came from the Jerusalem Temple constructed by King Solomon.

But how was the pomegranate used? Several suggestions have been made. One is that it was the head of a small scepter. A small hole had been carefully carved into the bottom of the pomegranate, into which a thin rod can fit. On the other hand, the pomegranate is quite small—less than 2 inches high—so it has also been suggested that it may have been a finial on a throne or cultic box, or a decoration on an altar, or an ornament elsewhere in the Temple.b

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