Spectacular Hellenistic-era Earring Unearthed in City of David

August 8, 2018

2 min read

A spectacular Hellenistic-era golden earring, featuring ornamentation of a horned animal, was discovered in excavations in the City of David National Park.

Archaeologists announced that the gold earring shaped like a horned animal, dates back to the second or third century BCE – during the Hellenistic period. The discovery was made during archeological digs conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority   and Tel Aviv University at the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park – which encircles Jerusalem’s Old City walls.

It is considered an important find, as little is known about Jerusalem during the Hellenistic period, when the city was under Ptolemaic rule. According to the directors of the excavation, Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Antiquities Authority, ”The jewelry was found inside a building that was unearthed during the excavation, dating to the early Hellenistic period.

The hoop earring bears the head of a horned animal (possibly an antelope or deer) with large eyes, a mouth and other facial features. Nearby, excavators also found a gold bead with intricate embroidered ornamentation resembling a thin rope pattern, dividing the beads into two parts with six spirals on each side.

The researchers said it was unclear whether the jewelry was worn by a man or a woman, nor what their cultural or religious identity was. They could, however, ascertain that it belonged to a member of Jerusalem’s upper-class, based on its proximity to the Temple and the Temple Mount – functional at the time. “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.”

Ariel Polokoff and Dr. Adi Erlich, from the archaeological department at Haifa University, examined the earring and bead and estimated that the jewelry was crafted using a technique called filigree, in which threads and tiny metal beads are used to create delicate and complex patterns. According to them, this type of earring first appeared in Greece during the early Hellenistic period, while the earrings date back to approximately the Third or early second centuries BCE.

According to Professor Gadot, similar (though not identical) earrings have been found in the Mediterranean basin, particularly in Greece. He added that a few of this type of earring had been found close to the coastal plain (a key Mediterranean trade route), but it was the first time that such an object had been found in Jerusalem.

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