A unique gold bead dating back to at least 1,600 years ago was found by an 18-year-old Israeli volunteer as she was sifting dirt from the excavation to uncover a magnificent building on the Pilgrimage Road, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
“Throughout all my years in archaeology, I have found gold perhaps once or twice, so to find gold jewelry, is something very very special,” said Dr. Amir Golani, an ancient jewelry expert at the IAA. “Whoever could afford a piece like this made from gold, was an affluent person, with means.”
The bead was crafted by affixing ten minuscule pieces of pure gold together in the shape of a ring, a technique that probably originated in Mesopotamia, where it is known to have been used already 4,500 years ago. It was likely part of a necklace.
“The most interesting aspect of the bead is its unique and complex production method,” Golani added. “A good understanding of the materials and their properties is required, as well as control over the heat, in order to on the one hand, solder the tiny balls together to create a tiny ring, while also preventing overheating which may lead all the gold to melt.”
According to the IAA experts, the bead might have been older than the structure where it was found, and it could have been brought there from outside the region.
The building where the artifact originated was at least 25 meters long.
“The wealth of the building’s occupants is evidenced by additional finds that were discovered in it, like imported clay vessels and a decorated mosaic floor,” said Shlomo Greenberg and Ari Levy, Excavation Directors on behalf of the IAA.
Archaeologists have been working on uncovering the impressive “Pilgrimage Road” – which connected the pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount – for about a decade. The site is part of the City of David’s archaeological park. The dirt removed from the site is brought to the nearby Emek Tzurim National Park to be sifted, mostly by volunteers.
“I saw something shiny in the corner of the sieve, different, that I don’t normally see,” said Hallel Feidman, the 18-year-old volunteer who found the bead. “I immediately approached the archaeologist and he confirmed that I found a gold bead. Everyone here was very excited.”