Ancient Gold Ring Found in Jerusalem

Luxurious ring highlights wealth of Hellenistic city

gold ring

The 2,300-year-old gold ring. Courtesy Asaf Peri, City of David.

Excavations in Jerusalem have revealed yet another fantastic discovery: a gold ring from the early Hellenistic period (late fourth–early third century BCE) that illuminates the city’s wealth during that time. Although archaeologists have long assumed Jerusalem was only a small town during the early Hellenistic period, finds like this and others from the City of David are rewriting that history.

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The Wealth of Hellenistic Jerusalem

Discovered by an archaeologist with the joint Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University (TAU) excavation, the small ring, which features a bright red garnet inset, was likely worn by a child. It is beautifully preserved thanks to gold’s anticorrosive properties. “The ring was manufactured by hammering thin pre-cut gold leaves onto a metal ring base,” said Marion Zindel of the IAA. “Stylistically it reflects the common fashion of the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. In that period people began to prefer gold with set stones rather than decorated gold.”

gold ring

IAA archaeologist Rikki Zalut Har-Tuv wearing the ring for scale. Courtesy Asaf Peri, City of David.

The ring joins several other luxury ornaments discovered in the Givati Parking Lot site of the City of David Archaeological Park on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City. These ornaments, along with many structures that have been uncovered in the area, are rewriting the history of early Hellenistic Jerusalem.

The Givati Parking Lot Site in the City of David. Courtesy Maor Ganot, City of David.

According to Yuval Gadot of TAU and Efrat Bocher of the IAA, “In the past, we found 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 (“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 both domestic and public buildings, and that the city extended from the hilltop westward. The character of the buildings—and now, of course, the gold finds and other discoveries—display 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.”

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Roman-Era Gold Bead Discovered in Jerusalem

The Riches of the Second Temple

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

Ancient Gold Ring Depicts the Holy Sepulchre

Prize Find: Golden Cobra from Ekron’s Last Days

Rings of Gold—Neither “Modest” Nor “Sensible”

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

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