A stunning piece of ancient jewelry, a small gold ring adorned with a precious red gemstone, believed to be a garnet, has been uncovered in archaeological excavations in the City of David, part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park. This remarkable find dates back approximately 2,300 years to the early Hellenistic period.

The gold ring, impeccably preserved due to the noble nature of gold, shows no signs of rust or significant wear since its last use millennia ago. According to the excavation directors, Yiftah Shalev and Riki Zalut Har-tov, the ring is particularly small, likely fitting on the pinky finger of a woman or the finger of a child.

Dr. Marion Zindel explains that the ring was crafted by hammering thin, pre-cut gold sheets over a metal ring base. This method reflects the common style of the late 4th to early 3rd centuries BCE, a period when people began favoring gold jewelry set with gemstones over purely gold decorations.

The Hellenistic ring found is of very small size.
The Hellenistic ring found is of very small size. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Professor Yuval Gadot from Tel Aviv University and excavator Efrat Bocher highlight that this gold ring joins other early Hellenistic adornments found in the City of David excavations, such as a horned animal pendant and a decorated gold bead. These finds are pivotal in reshaping the understanding of Jerusalem’s nature and status during the early Hellenistic period.

Previously, the scarcity of structures and artifacts from this era led scholars to believe that Jerusalem was a small city with limited resources, confined to the southeastern ridge known as the “City of David”. However, the recent discoveries from the Givati Parking Lot excavations reveal a different narrative. The range of structures now unearthed includes both domestic and public buildings, indicating a sprawling city extending from the hilltop westward. The quality and nature of these buildings, alongside the luxurious gold finds, suggest a thriving economy and an elite status for Jerusalem’s inhabitants.

The Hellenistic period, beginning with Alexander the Great’s reign, was known for its widespread trade and cultural exchanges. Alexander’s conquests facilitated the movement of luxury goods, including gold jewelry, across his empire. Hellenistic jewelry often featured designs inspired by mythological figures or significant symbolic events, showcasing the era’s artistic and cultural influences.

The ongoing excavations continue to uncover artifacts that enrich the historical narrative of Jerusalem. Each discovery, like this exquisite gold ring, contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the city’s past, its people, and its place within the larger Hellenistic cultural and economic sphere.



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