Working at the Givati parking lot in the City of David area of Jerusalem—which in the past few years has become a hugely fruitful source of ancient artifacts—archaeologists have discovered a gold earring dating to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. Little is known about this period in Jewish history, which stretches from the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE to the Maccabean Revolt in 167 BCE. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:
The beautifully wrought gold earring discovered in the Givati dig is an example of the widespread reach of Hellenistic culture in the region. The hoop earring bears the head of what could be an antelope or a deer. Its intricate detail depicts the animal’s large eyes, mouth, and other facial features. . . . [A] gold bead with complex, spiral rope-like embroidered ornamentation was also discovered at the site. . . .
During the period ascribed to the jewelry and pottery found in the excavation, Judea was a Hellenistic vassal state and under semi-autonomous Jewish rule administered by the priestly class: it was first ruled by Ptolemaic Egypt from 301 to 198 BCE, and then by the Seleucid empire after Antiochus III conquered Jerusalem. . . While this era is documented in several ancient sources, . . . there is scant physical evidence of it found in Jerusalem aside from some pottery and a few coins. . . .
The researchers cannot determine whether the earring belonged to a man or woman, or the adorned individual’s religious and ethnic identity. “But we can say for certain that whoever wore this earring definitely belonged to Jerusalem’s upper class. This can be determined by the proximity to the Temple Mount and the Temple, which was functional at the time, as well as the quality of the gold piece of jewelry,” [they stated].
The finding may lead experts to reconsider the geography of Jerusalem during this period. Until now, the consensus has been that from the 5th to the late-2nd centuries BCE the city had shrunk to a narrow area around the Temple Mount, while most of the City of David lay desolate or was converted to farmland. But the earring, and its location in what seems to have been an upper-class home from the same time period, suggests otherwise.
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