2,000-year-old gold earring found in Jerusalem

Archaeologists found a gold earring dating back to the Hellenistic period, a rare occurrence in Israel.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The ongoing dig at the Givati parking lot in the City of David National Park has yielded a new treasure, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday. Two pieces of intricately fashioned gold jewelry were found near each other that dated from the Hellenistic period (323-31 BCE).

The first was a gold hoop earring measuring about 2.5 cm, with the detailed head of a horned animal at the end of it that could be an antelope or a deer. It has distinct eyes and a mouth as well as large ears, while the loop looks like gold cords wrapped around its core in tight ridges.

According to an IAA statement, although the researchers are uncertain as to whether it belonged to a man or a woman, or a Jew vs. a non-Jew, “We can say for certain that whoever wore this earring definitely belonged to Jerusalem‘s upper class. This can be determined by the proximity to the Temple Mount and the Temple, which was functional at the time, as well as the quality of the gold piece of jewelry.”

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Not just an earring

The second find was a gold bead with intricately embroidered ornamentation resembling a thin rope pattern, dividing the beads into two parts with six spirals on each side.

According to Haifa University archaeologists, the jewelry was crafted using a technique called filigree, in which threads and tiny metal beads are used to create delicate and complex patterns.

”The jewelry was found inside a building that was unearthed during the excavation, dating to the early Hellenistic period— a fascinating era about which we know very little when it comes to Jerusalem,” said dig directors Tel Aviv University Prof. Yuval Gadot and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the IAA. “During the course of over a century of archaeological digs in the city, many small discoveries have been made from this period — mainly consisting of pottery fragments and a few coins — but hardly any remains of buildings that could be accurately dated to this period.”

This makes these finds very rare.

“Up until now, only a few such earrings have been found in Israel…. However, this is the first time that such an earring has been found in Jerusalem inside of archeological ruins from that time,” Gadot said.

This is not the only time that such well-crafted jewelry was found in the former parking lot next to the Old City walls. In 2008, when the archaeologists had only reached the Roman time period at the dig, a gold earring with emeralds and a pearl was discovered in the ruins of a large building. The professionals estimated at the time that it was fashioned during the era of the Second Temple, even though it was found in a structure that was destroyed nearly 300 years later.

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