The Temple Mount Sifting Project allows non-specialists of all ages to aid archaeologists in the gargantuan task of sorting through large piles of soil displaced from the area of Judaism’s holiest site. After suspending operations for some time due to the coronavirus, it recently resumed, which led a Jerusalem schoolboy named Binyamin Milt to discover a gold bead that the experts at first dismissed as a modern object. Later, it was shown to Gabriel Barkay, one of the project’s directors:
When [Barkay] held the bead, his first response was: “I recognize this type of bead!” and he recalled that he found several similar items when excavating burial systems from the First Temple period in Katef Hinom [in Jerusalem]. There the beads were made of silver, but were identical in shape and in their manufacturing method, called granulation. Beads of this type were also found in several other sites over the country, and the layers in which they were found were dated to various periods, from the 13th century BCE [the putative era of the Exodus] up to the 4th century BCE [the early Second Temple period], with the overwhelming majority dating to the Iron Age (12th-6th centuries BCE). Several similar beads made of gold were also found [at other Iron Age sites in Israel].
The bead is roughly cylindrical, with a hole at its center. Its diameter measures 6mm and its height 4mm, and it is built of four layers each made of tiny gold balls adhered one to another in a flower shape. Gold being a precious metal which does not tarnish or rust, the bead’s state of preservation is excellent, and it looks as if it had been manufactured just yesterday.
The archaeologists believe the bead might have been used as some sort of amulet—or been a decoration on a priestly vestment.