Teenager Finds 1,600-year-old Gold Bead from City of David Dig
An 18-year-old young woman recently unearthed a rare bit of ancient jewelry along the Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem. Hallel Feidman, a volunteer with a project called the Archaeological Experience, was sifting through dirt from a “grandiose” Roman structure on the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David when she spotted something glimmering in the debris.
“I remember that I poured the bucket into the strainer and started to wash the rubble. I then suddenly saw, in the corner of the filter, something shiny, something I don’t usually see. To confirm what I was thinking, I went to the archaeologist, who confirmed that I had found a gold bead,” said Feidman. “Everyone here was in tremendous excitement.”
The bead Feidman found is tiny (just a few millimeters in size), and according to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) ancient jewelry expert Dr. Amir Golani, it required an extraordinary level of craftsmanship to create. It is made up of more than a dozen granules of pure gold that have been soldered together. The bead was most likely part of a necklace or bracelet that perhaps broke and scattered.
Finding gold at an archaeological site is extremely rare, Golani explained.
“Throughout all my years in archaeology, I have found gold perhaps once or twice, so to find gold jewelry is something very, very special. Whoever could afford a piece like this made from gold was a wealthy person of means,” Golani said.
“The most interesting aspect of the bead is its unique and complex production method. A good understanding of the materials and their properties is required, as well as control over the heat, in order to, on the one hand, solder the tiny balls together to create a tiny ring while also preventing overheating, which may lead all the gold to melt,” Golani said. “Only a professional craftsman could produce such a bead, which is another reason that this find holds great value.”
The head of the IAA, Eli Escusido, also was awed by the intricacies of the beadwork. “Even with today’s advanced technology, creating something like this would be very complex. A close examination of this object fills one with a deep sense of admiration for the technical skill and ability of those who came before us many centuries ago.”
(Photo credit: Koby Harati/City of David)