Nov. 11, 2008 A 2,000 year old gold earring inlaid with pearls and precious stones was discovered in excavations that the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Giv‘ati car park at the City of David, in the “Walls around Jerusalem National Park”. The excavations are being carried out jointly with the Nature and Parks Authority and are underwritten by the Ir David Foundation.
The earring, which is made of a coiled gold hoop, has a large inlaid pearl in its center. Connected to the hoop are two identical gold pendants, each of which is adorned with one emerald and pearl. The emerald is held by a kind of gold cap that connects it to the main hoop by means of a small hoop that is also fashioned from gold. Another pearl that is relatively smaller than the one inlaid in the upper hoop is attached to the other side of the emerald. The pearl is fastened to the emerald by means of a gold finding, which passes through a tiny hole that was drilled in it.
According to Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The earring was astonishingly well preserved, so much so that it seems it was manufactured only yesterday. The data we have available today about jewelry and the manufacture of jewels in the ancient world indicate that the earring, which was discovered in the ruins of a building which dates to the Byzantine period (fourth-fifth centuries CE), was apparently originally produced during the course of the Roman period (between the first century BCE and the beginning of the fourth century CE). Gold jewelry inlaid with precious stones and pearls were used throughout the Roman Empire – from the Roman provinces in the east to Britain in the west. One of the most detailed and impressive sources of information we have that were preserved from this period are the Fayum portraits that were discovered in Egypt. These drawings, which decorated the tombs of the mummies at Fayum, present an entire gallery of the deceased images dressed in their best attire and wearing expensive jewelry. It is interesting to note that in the portraits of the women from Fayum they are wearing gold earrings and necklaces that in most cases are inlaid with pearls and emeralds. These earrings are surprisingly reminiscent of the earring from the City of David, and it seems that they were fashioned in a similar technique.”
A year ago a large impressive edifice that dates to the end of the Second Temple period was exposed in the excavations in the Giv‘ati car park. Based on evidence from the writings of Josephus Flavius, the building that was uncovered was probably erected by the Hadyab family. The most famous member of that family was Queen Heleni, who converted to Judaism and moved to Jerusalem, where she was buried.
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