A 2,200-Year-Old Earring Sheds New Light on a Mysterious Period in Israel’s History

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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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hellenism, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Maccabees

 

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion