“Whoever wore it was an upper-class resident of Jerusalem.” The earring will be presented to the general public at the City of David Annual Archaeological Conference.

A gold earring

Jerusalem of Gold: A spectacular gold earring, designed in the image of a horned animal, dating to the 2nd-3rd centuries BCE (the Hellenistic period), was discovered in archaeological excavations by the Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University in the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David, in the National Park surrounding the walls of Jerusalem.

According to those directing the excavation, Prof. Yuval Gadot from Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftach Shalev from the Antiquities Authority: “The item of jewelry was found in a building uncovered during the excavation, and dates back to the early Hellenistic period. This is a fascinating period, and knowledge about it in Jerusalem is scarce. During more than a hundred years of archaeological excavations in the city, it is true that there have been many small findings from the period – mainly fragments of pottery and a few coins – but almost no remains of buildings that date with certainty from this period were found there.”

The hoop-like earring is decorated with the head of a horned animal (antelope or deer) with large eyes, a mouth, and other facial features. A gold bead decorated with fine embroidery in the model of a thin rope was also discovered close to it, with the rope dividing the bead into two parts and six spirals on each side.

According to the researchers: “It is neither clear whether the gold earring was worn by a man or by a woman, nor what their cultural and religious identity was, but it can be said with certainty that the person who wore the earring was an upper-class resident of Jerusalem. This fact can be determined both due to the proximity to the Temple Mount and the Temple that was active at that time, and because of the quality of piece of gold jewelry.” Ariel Polokoff and Dr. Adi Ehrlich from the Department of Archeology at the University of Haifa, who examined the earring and bead, estimated that the jewelry was produced using a technique called ‘filigree’, which uses threads and tiny metal balls to create intricate and delicate patterns. According to them, this type of earring first appeared in Greece during the early Hellenistic period, And the earrings must be dated to the 4th or 2nd centuries BCE. Very similar (although not identical) earrings are known from around the Mediterranean basin – especially from Greece, but in Israel they are very rare. According to Prof. Gadot, “So far only a few earrings of this type have been discovered in Israel, most of them in the coastal area, with a slightly different earring being found in a burial cave in the Hinnom Shoulder. This is the first time that such an earring has been discovered in the City of Jerusalem among archaeological remains from the period.” According to the researchers, “the findings from the excavation open a porthole to the city of Jerusalem of the early Hellenistic period. It is apparent that during this period, the city was not reduced to just the top of the Hill of the City of David, but rather, it expanded a little to the west, towards the Tyropoeon Valley, and perhaps even beyond it. The excavation also shows that those who settled in this area were not the poor who settled in the empty areas around the center, but on the contrary – people with means, the rich. The discovery of jewelry from the Hellenistic period may indicate that Hellenistic influences also reached Jerusalem during this period.”