Winter 2001-02


Jewish Studies At The University



Rare Seventh-Year Bread Stamp

- Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

This bread stamp was discovered during the excavations of Horbat Kfar Samir-“Castra,” at the city of Haifa’s south-west entrance, in 2000.  Dr. Gerald Finkielsztejn of the Department of Archaeology directed the dig on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.  The Hebrew word ùáòéú, shvi’it, meaning “seventh”—apparently a reference to Shmita, the seventh year, when according to biblical dictate the land is supposed to lie fallow—appears clearly in retrograde writing on the die in order to be normally read on the bread.   

According to Finkielsztejn, the context does not allow a precise dating in the span of the 2nd-6th centuries CE, a period of time known as the mishnaic and talmudic periods.  He stated, though, that the stamp was definitely related to the Shnat Shmita, the Shmita year, though its exact aim was not yet known.  David Amit of the I.A.A. is currently studying the artifact. 

Discovery of the stamp, very coincidentally, came during the observance of the Shmita year in Israel. The Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shaar-Yeshuv Cohen, who is a member of the University’s Board of Governors, took advantage of the rare find at the time to stamp a loaf of bread prior to its baking.




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