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Israeli archaeologists find ancient kosher bread stamp

(Xinhua)

11:13, January 11, 2012

JERUSALEM, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers found a tiny seal with the image of a seven-branch menorah used to stamp the kosher sign on bread 1,500 years ago.

Archaeologists found the ceramic stamp dating back to the 6th century B.C. in Acre, north of Israel, during the excavations at Horbat Uza.

Israel Antiquities Authority is digging in the area, prior to the construction of Acre-Carmiel railroad track by the Israel National Roads company.

The seal belongs to a group of stamps referred to as "bread stamps." Archaeologists placed great importance to the find, since it proves the presence of a Jewish community in the area during the Byzantine era.

"The stamp is important because it proves that a Jewish community existed in the settlement of Uza in the Christian- Byzantine period," Dr. Danny Syon, director of the excavation, said in a press release on Tuesday.

"The presence of a Jewish settlement so close to Akko -- a region that was definitely Christian at this time -- constitutes an innovation in archaeological research," he said.

The stamp is engraved with a seven-branch menorah and Greek letters that spell out what the researchers believe to be the name of the baker, Launtius.

Stamping the bread with the "Kashrut" symbol and the baker's name was common among Jewish communities during the Byzantine period.

"In this way the dough could be stamped twice before baking: once with the menorah -- the general symbol of the Jewish identity of Jewish bakeries, and the private name of the baker in each of these bakeries, which also guaranteed the bakery's kashrut," Syon said.

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