Jerusalem, 8 February, 2023 (TPS) — A unique 1,600 bead made from pure gold at least 1,600 years ago was discovered by an 18-year volunteer sifting dirt at a Jerusalem archaeological site, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.
The bead was discovered by Hallel Feidman, who was sifting dirt removed from a Roman structure discovered in the Pilgrimage Road excavation in an area outside the southern walls of Jerusalem’s Old City known as the City of David.
“I poured the pail onto the sieve and began to wash the material that was brought from the excavations in the City of David,” Feidman said. “And then I saw something shiny in the corner of the sieve, different, that I don’t normally see. I immediately approached the archaeologist and he confirmed that I found a gold bead. Everyone here was very excited.”
Feidman was working for the Antiquities Authority as part of a year-long period of national volunteer service. For thousands of Israeli teens, national service, known as “Sherut Leumi,” is a one or two-year period of volunteer work as an alternative to mandatory military service.
According to the Antiquities Authority, similar beads have been discovered in burial caves in the area of the City of David from 2,500 years ago, which corresponds to the end of the First Temple period. However, those beads were silver, and only “a few dozen” beads made of gold have been found in Israel.
“Throughout all my years in archaeology, I have found gold perhaps once or twice, so to find gold jewelry, is something very very special,” said Dr. Amir Golani, an ancient jewelry expert at the Antiquities Authority. He noted that the bead was probably part of a necklace or bracelet that included additional beads.
“Whoever could afford a piece like this made from gold, was an affluent person, with means,” Golani said.
“The most interesting aspect of the bead is its unique and complex production method,” he added.
Golani explained that, “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.”
According to him, “Only a professional craftsman could produce such a bead, which is another reason that this find holds great value.”
Antiquities Authority director Eli Escusido said that even today, the bead would be difficult to produce.
“Even with today’s advanced technology, creating something like this would be very complex,” Escusido said. “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.”
The Pilgrimage Road includes an ancient stairway ascending to the Temple Mount with ritual baths and water channels where millions of Jews would ritually immerse themselves before entering the Temple Mount.
It was first discovered by municipal workers repairing a sewage pipe in 2004.
In 2021, an 11-year-old girl sifting dirt from the Pilgrimage Road discovered a 2,000-year old silver coin from the Jewish revolt against the Romans.