Photo Credit: Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority
Rikki Zalut Har-Tuv, one of the excavation directors, with the ring.

A gold ring set with a precious stone dating from the early Hellenistic period was recently found in the joint Israel Antiquities Authority-Tel Aviv University excavation in the City of David.

The ring was discovered by Tehiya Gangate, a City of David excavation team member, while she was sifting excavated earth.


“I was sifting earth through the screen and suddenly saw something glitter,” she recounts. “I immediately yelled, ‘I found a ring, I found a ring!’ Within seconds everyone gathered around me, and there was great excitement. This is an emotionally moving find, not the kind you find every day. In truth, I always wanted to find gold jewelry, and I am very happy this dream came true – literally one week before I went on maternity leave.”

The 2,300-year-old gold ring. / Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority

The find will be exhibited to the public in the free “Jerusalem Mysteries” conference hosted by the IAA on Jerusalem Day, in the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel. Details may be found on the IAA website. The ring I made of gold and set with a red precious stone, apparently a garnet. As gold is a very refined material is exceedingly well-preserved, and since its last use 2300 years ago it accumulated no rust nor suffered other weathering of time.

The excavation is part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, with the support of the Elad Foundation.

The excavation at Givati Parking Lot in the City of David, where the ring was found. / Maor Ganot, City of David

Dr. Yiftah Shalev and Riki Zalut Har-tov, IAA Excavation Directors, say the ring is very small and would have fit a woman’s pinky, or a young girl’s finger. Dr. Marion Zindel says the ring was manufactured by hammering thin pre-cut gold leaves onto a metal ring base. Stylistically it reflects the common fashion of the Persian and Early Hellenistic periods, dating from the late 4th to early 3rd centuries BCE and onwards. In that period, people began to prefer gold with set stones rather than decorated gold.

Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and excavator Efrat Bocher note that the recently found gold ring joins other ornaments of the early Hellenistic period found in the City of David excavations, including the horned-animal earring and the decorated gold bead.

The Givati Parking Lot excavation finds are beginning to paint a new picture of the nature and stature of Jerusalem’s inhabitants in the Early Hellenistic Period. Whereas in the past researchers discovered only a few structures and finds from this era, and thus most scholars assumed Jerusalem was then a small town, limited to the top of the southeastern slope (the City of David) and with relatively very few resources – these new finds tell a different story. The aggregate of revealed structures now constitutes an entire neighborhood. They attest to the existence of both domestic and public buildings when the city extended from the hilltop westward. The character of the buildings – and now, of course, the gold ring find and other discoveries show the city’s healthy economy and even its elite status.

It certainly seems that the city’s residents were open to the widespread Hellenistic style and influences prevalent also in the eastern Mediterranean Basin.

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