IAA/Israel Museum

What is it? Roland de Vaux labeled this find “a stone disk” when it surfaced during his 1950s excavations of Qumran, the site near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, which he identified as an Essene settlement. For 40 years this 8-inch-wide limestone disk sat in the storerooms of Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum, until it was discovered again last year dur-ing inventory and identified as a sundial. But author Abraham Levy’s comparison of this object to sundials dating roughly to the same period from around the ancient world, including one from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, shows that the Qumran roundel does not resemble any of them.