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2000 Year Old Earring

A major find, a 2,000 year old golden earring inlaid with pearls and emeralds, was found among the excavated remains of a large structure in the Giv'ati car park located at the City of David. This archaeological excavation is being carried out as part of the "Walls around Jerusalem National Park" project which is being executed under the auspices of the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by the Ir David Foundation.

Coiled Hoop

The earring's design consists of a coiled golden hoop with a large central inlaid pearl. Linked to the hoop on either side are two gold pendants, each decorated with one pearl and one emerald. A gold cap, connected to the hoop by a smaller gold hoop, holds the emerald, and a smaller pearl is affixed to the back of the emerald with the help of a gold finding that is threaded through a miniscule drilled hole.

Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, appointed by the Israel Antiquities Authority to direct the excavation, said, "The earring was astonishingly well preserved, so much so that it seems it was manufactured only yesterday."

The earring was discovered in the remains of a building which dates back to the Byzantine period, fourth to fifth centuries CE. Based on what is known about jewelry and its manufacture in ancient times, the experts believe the earring was first created during Roman rule, which would have been sometime between the first century BCE and the early years of the fourth century CE.

In Vogue

Jewelry made from gold, inlaid with precious gems and pearls, was in use throughout the Roman Empire. Such items would have been in vogue all the way from the eastern Roman provinces to the western parts of Britain.

The Fayum portraits, found in Egypt, are the main source of design information about this period. These were drawings that were used to decorate the mummies' tombs and depicted images of the deceased, attired in their best dress and wearing lavish and costly jewelry. The portraits of the Fayum women, in almost every case, depict them wearing similar jewelry, gold necklaces and earrings, inlaid with emeralds and pearls and are quite similar in design and technique.

Queen Heleni

The massive building, which dates back to the late end of the Second Temple period, and in which the earring was found, was uncovered during excavations at the Giv'ati car park. The writings of Josephus Flavius lend credence to the idea that this edifice may have been built by the Hadyab family. The most well-known personage in this family was Queen Heleni, who moved to Jerusalem after her conversion to Judaism. Queen Heleni was buried in the ancient, holy city.


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