Ancient jewelry hoard found in Israel
|This basket-shaped gold earring (R) was found well-hidden inside a clay vessel (L) during an excavation at Tel Megiddo in Israel [Credit: The Megiddo Expedition]|
|This is the gold earring found at Tel Megiddo [Credit: American Friends of Tel Aviv University]|
A treasure trove with mysterious origins
When the researchers removed the ceramic jug from the excavation site, they had no idea there was jewelry hidden within. The jewelry was well preserved and wrapped in textiles, but the circumstances surrounding it are mysterious. According to Prof. Finkelstein, it is likely that the jug was not the jewelry's normal storage place. "It's clear that people tried to hide the collection, and for some reason they were unable to come back to pick it up." The owners could have perished or been forced to flee, he says. Prof. Ussishkin believes that it was the jewelry collection of the Canaanite woman who lived in the house.
|Four pair of moon-shaped gold earrings were also found in the vessel [Credit: The Megiddo Expedition]|
The most notable piece, the researchers agree, is a gold earring with a pattern of molded wild goats. "For unique items, we work to find parallels to help place the items in their correct cultural and chronological settings, but in this case we still haven't found anything," say the researchers.
Adding dimension to a multi-layer dig
It's another fascinating find from a unique archaeological site. Tel Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state until the early 10thcentury B.C.E. and a pivotal center of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C.E. It is a multi-layered site with various time periods clearly differentiated, and in this time period there are 10 to 11 strata well-dated through radiocarbon analysis. "Such a sequence of radiocarbon dates doesn't exist anywhere else in the region," says Prof. Finkelstein.
|Beads made of carnelian stone and a gold ring are among the ancient treasure discovered at Tel Megiddo [Credit: The Megiddo Expedition]|
The researchers hope that analysis of both the textiles in which the jewelry was wrapped and the jewelry itself will tell them more about the origins of the collection. If the gold is pure rather than a mixture of gold and silver, for example, the metal most likely will have come from Egypt itself, a region that was poor in silver resources but rich in gold.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University [May 21, 2012]