Engravings of a cross and a menorah carved thousands of years ago were recently found in a cave in Israel.
The discovery of two side-by-side symbols associated with Judaism and Christianity, respectively, coincides with a rare overlap of the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays in 2016, with the first night of Hanukkah falling on Christmas Eve. Such an alignment has happened only four times since 1900 — in 1902, 1940, 1978 and 2016.
Hikers unexpectedly came upon the ancient carvings while exploring subterranean passages in southern Israel.
Archaeologists dated the menorah carving to the second century A.D. and the cross to the fourth century A.D.
The menorah, which has seven arms and three legs, represents the traditional candelabra that stood in the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
Wall engravings of menorahs are uncommon, making this new find important for unraveling the puzzle of life in the Judean Shephelah caves thousands of years ago. This exciting discovery, which was symbolically revealed during the Hanukkah holiday, substantiates the scientific research regarding the Jewish nature of the settlement during the Second Temple period.
Other carvings on the walls, including one that resembles a key, are yet to be identified. But some of the underground caves at this lowlands site, known as the Judean Shephelah, have long been recognized as hideouts for renegade Jews during the uprising led by Simon bar Kokhba against the Roman invaders around 2,000 years ago.