Archaeologists in Israel are excited at their latest find: a bronze bracelet from 3,500 years ago, in southeast Tzfat in the Galilee.
The excavation of the first known village from the Late Bronze period – roughly the time of the Biblical Joseph – is taking place in the Ramat Razim neighborhood, with funding provided by the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Housing. The work is being done in preparation for the construction of new neighborhoods, commercial areas, an access road and a medical school in the area.
"We discovered a rare, wide bracelet made of bronze,” said Karen Covello-Paran, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The ancient bracelet, which is extraordinarily well-preserved, is decorated with engravings, and the top of it is adorned with a horned structure,” representing power, fertility and law.
One who could afford such a bracelet was apparently very well-off financially, Covello-Paran said, “and it probably belonged to the wife or daughter of the village ruler. In the artwork of neighboring lands, gods and rulers were depicted wearing horned crowns; however, such a bracelet, and from an archaeological excavation at that, has never been found here.”
The bracelet was found inside the remains of an estate house, part of an ancient settlement that existed in a rocky area overlooking the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. Made of indigenous limestone, the building included a paved central courtyard surrounded by residential rooms and storerooms. The residents apparently engaged in barter.
Along with the bracelet, a Canaanite scarab was found that is made of stone and engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs. In antiquity, scarabs were worn as pendants or were inlaid in rings, and were used as a seal or talisman with magical powers.
“This is the first time that a 3,500-year-old village has been excavated and exposed in the north of Israel,” Covello-Paran said. “To date, only the large cities have been excavated in the region, such as Tel Megiddo or Tel Hazor. Here we have gained a first glimpse of life in the ancient rural hinterland in the north, and it turns out that it was more complex than we thought. It seems that the small village at Ramat Razim constituted part of the periphery of Tel Hazor, the largest and most significant city in the Canaanite region at the time, which is located about 10 kilometers north of the settlement at Ramat Razim.”
The ancient inhabitants of Ramat Razim raised sheep and goats, and farmed. Numerous basalt querns that were used for grinding wheat into flour were found in the building. In addition, we also found large storage vessels that were used to store grain and liquids, which stood on the floor to a height of more than a meter. An ancient oven for cooking was found in one of the residential rooms alongside ceramic cookware and tools, including flint blades, and intact bronze implements such as a long needle (15 centimeters, or 6 inches) for sewing sacks or treating skins, and a long decorated pin that was used to fasten a dress or gown.”
The Israel Antiquities Authority is working to integrate the site in the extensive development plans for Ramat Razim, alongside the research institute and medical school, as an open place for visitors, together with the other nature assets in the region.