Money Matters - Simplified

Rare cache of ancient jewelry found in Israel

The trove included nine pairs of lunette [moon-shaped] earrings of common Canaanite origin made out of gold and a gold ring with a seal. The most arresting piece is a gold earring with a pattern of molded wild goats.

A Megiddo dig has unearthed a rare trove of buried Canaanite treasure, with jewels, coins, and other valuable items estimated to be about 3,100 years old, announced archaeologists on Monday.

The cache of buried treasure was found stored in clay vessel by archaeologists from Tel Aviv University while digging in the area of the ancient palace at Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley in the summer of 2010.

“We find about 10 [whole] vessels every year. The only thing that was unusual was that the jug was found inside a bowl. It was put inside a bowl 3,000 years ago and was covered by another bowl and it was put in the corner of a court yard,” said excavation area supervisor Eran Arie.

According to the researchers, the treasure originates from the “Iron I” period which dates back to around 1100 BC when the Egyptian rule in Tel Megiddo had just ended.

The priceless collection
Since the jars were packed with dirt, it was not clear what was inside. It was only after they were systematically examined in a restoration laboratory and the accumulated mud washed out that a priceless collection wrapped in a textile was discovered.

The trove included nine pairs of lunette [moon-shaped] earrings of common Canaanite origin made out of gold and a gold ring with a seal. The most arresting piece is a gold earring with a pattern of molded wild goats.

In addition, over one thousand beads made from gold, silver and semi-precious carnelian stone commonly used to make Egyptian jewellery during the same period spilled out. It also contained a number of silver jewellery pieces.

Eran Arie explained, “Some of the materials and designs featured in the jewellery, including beads made from carnelian stone, are consistent with Egyptian designs from the same period."

“Either the jewellery was left behind in the Egyptian withdrawal or the people who owned the jewellery were influenced by Egyptian culture.”

Treasure belongs to a time period called "Iron I”
According to Israel Finkelstein, the co-director at the excavation at Tel Megiddo, the collection found in the remains of a private home perhaps belonged to a wealthy or royal Israelite family that lived on the northern side of the walled city of Megiddo.

According to the researchers, the treasure originates from the “Iron I” period which dates back to around 1100 BC when the Egyptian rule in Tel Megiddo had just ended.

The collection and the fabric in which it was wrapped have been sent for further analysis and carbon data testing by the archaeologists, in the hope that it will help establish their actual origins.

"For unique items, we work to find parallels to help place the items in their correct cultural and chronological settings, but in this case we still haven't found anything," say the researchers.