Daily Israel Report

Ancient Chic: 2,000-yr-old Earring Found in Jerusalem of Gold

A breathtaking 2,000-year-old gold earring inlaid with glowing pearls and precious gems is discovered in Jerusalem's archaeological treasure trove.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 11/10/2008, 12:59 PM

Israel News Photo: (courtesy of IAA)

A stunningly beautiful 2,000-year-old gold earring inlaid with pearls and precious gems is the latest discovery in Jerusalem's archaeological treasure trove, the City of David.

Gold earring inlaid with pearls and emeralds
Israel News photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

The ancient jewelry was discovered during an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Giva'ti car park, specifically in the "Walls Around Jerusalem National Park" area.

The excavations, which are being carried out jointly with the Nature and Parks Authority, are underwritten by the Ir David [City of David] Foundation, which has been responsible for numerous priceless discoveries in the area.

Giva'ti car park excavation, Sky View Ltd.
(courtesy of IAA)

The stylish earring itself meets top fashion standards, ancient or otherwise.

The main part of the earring is made of a coiled gold hoop encircling a large inlaid pearl nestled in its center. Dangling from the bottom of the hoop are two identical gold pendants, each of which is adorned with a small chain whose links are comprised of one emerald and pearl, held in place by golden fastenings.

It is true that the emeralds' sparkle is dulled by having been buried in centuries of rubble, but their fine color shines through nonetheless. And nothing has managed to diminish the breathtaking glow of the pearls, which truly are fit for the collection of any princess.

"The earring was astonishingly well preserved, so much so that it seems it was manufactured only yesterday," commented the directors of the excavation on behalf of IAA, Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets. The two experts added that the piece, which was discovered in the ruins of a building which dates to the Byzantine period (4-5 CE on the Gregorian calendar), may have been produced earlier.

The lovely earring was "apparently originally produced during the course of the Roman period (between the first century BCE and the beginning of 4 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," they explained.

In Egyptian tombs dating to the same period, they added, they found many portraits of women wearing expensive jewelry that included gold earrings and necklaces that were often inlaid with pearls and emeralds. "These earrings are surprisingly reminiscent of the earring from the City of David," said Ben-Ami, "and it seems that they were fashioned in a similar technique."

IAA employee modeling ancient earring
(courtesy of IAA)

A year ago a large, impressive edifice dating back to the end of the Second Temple period was revealed in the same area where the earring was found. Based on evidence from the writings of the Jewish and Roman historian Josephus, the building was most likely erected by the Hadyab family, according to Ben-Ami. The most famous member of that family was Queen Heleni, who converted to Judaism and moved to Jerusalem, where she is buried, he said.