Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Ancient gold bead found in Jerusalem

MATERIAL CULTURE: Archaeologists Find Rare Mesopotamian-style Gold Bead in Jerusalem. Discovered in a Late Roman building in the ‘City of David,’ the exquisite bead is one of few gold jewels ever found in the area, archaeologists say (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
The bead was found in pristine condition by Hallel Feidman, a volunteer sifting and washing dirt removed from the Roman building, itself a big, ornate construction. It can’t be dated but the building where it was lost can. It is from the Late Roman era, about 1,600 years ago.

Made of pure gold, the bead was crafted by affixing dozens of tiny golden spheres together to shape a tiny ring. It likely wouldn’t have been worn in solo glory like a pendant but probably formed part of a bigger piece, says Dr. Amir Golani, the IAA’s ancient jewelry expert.

An article by Michael Bachner in the Times of Israel has additional details: Rare 1,600-year-old gold bead found by teenager in Jerusalem’s City of David. Piece of jewelry, which required unique expertise to make, discovered in earth sifted from magnificent Roman structure in Pilgrimage Road, near Old City.

The Temple Mount Sifting project found a gold bead in 2020.

Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay heads the Sifting Project. His excavation at Ketef Hinnom also found about fifty silver beads some decades ago.

I have not yet mentioned the jewelry found in the undisturbed repository. That deserves special notice. The treasure trove of jewelry from this repository is unequalled in Jerusalem excavations. It gives us our first glimpse of the jewelry worn by women (and perhaps also by men) in Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period. The repository yielded more than a hundred silver items and six gold items, including simple crescent-shaped earrings, 15 silver earrings, four silver finger rings, about 50 silver beads, a silver pendant and a scarab mounted in silver. The most common decoration on the earrings was a granulation technique, that is, the attachment of tiny silver balls to the body of the earrings. A large number of beads were made of semiprecious stones—agate, carnelian and rock-crystal— as well as more common materials like glass, faience and shell. Another especially fine piece is a silver signet ring bearing the figure of a galloping griffin with a feline body, the head and wings of an eagle and a coiled tail.
(BAR 2013. My emphasis.) Ketef Hinnom is better known for the silver scrolls excavated there which were inscribed with biblical texts. See here and here and many links.

Cross-file under Ancient Bling.

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