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Hellenistic Jewelry Discovered in Jerusalem

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This 2,200-year-old gold earring portraying the head of a horned animal was unearthed in the Givati Parking Lot in Jerusalem’s City of David National Park. Researchers hope the Hellenistic jewelry will provide more insight into what Jerusalem was like at this time. Photo: Clara Amit, Antiquities Authority.

A rare gold earring dating to the second or third century B.C.E. was unearthed during an excavation in Jerusalem. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University were digging in the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park when they found a hoop earring that depicted the head of a horned animal—perhaps an antelope or a deer. A gold bead with embroidered ornamentation was also found near the 2,200-year-old earring.

“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,” explained dig directors Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Yiftah Shalev of the IAA in a press release. “During the course of over a century of archeological 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.”

According to Haifa University specialists Ariel Polokoff and Adi Erlich, who examined the gold earring and bead, the pieces seem to have been created in the filigree technique, in which complex patterns are crafted from delicate threads and beads.

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Although the archaeologists can’t say for now whether the earring belonged to a man or woman or what the owner’s cultural or religious identity was, they can surmise that the owner was a member of the elite. The rare discovery also gives researchers a glimpse into Hellenistic-period Jerusalem.


The archaeological excavation in the Givati Parking Lot. Photo: Kobi Harati, City of David.

“It seems as though, at the time, the city did not reach farther than the top of the hill in the City of David, but then spread slightly to the west into the Tyropoeon Valley,” said Gadot and Shalev. “We also learned from this excavation that the residents of this area were not peasants who settled in empty areas on the periphery of the central area, but rather the opposite—they were well-off people. The discovery of familiar Hellenistic pieces of jewelry can teach us about how Hellenistic influences reached Jerusalem during this time.”

Excavating the City of David is the definitive book on the City of David—the oldest part of Jerusalem—by City of David excavator Ronny Reich. Learn about the Siloam Tunnel, Warren’s Shaft system, Siloam Inscription, Theodotos Inscription and Pool of Siloam in this must-read publication.

The post Hellenistic Jewelry Discovered in Jerusalem appeared first on Biblical Archaeology Society.

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