Jerusalem’s Oldest Gold Artifact

According to the book of Kings, the Phoenician monarch Hiram of Tyre was an ally of Kings David and Solomon and provided cedarwood and skilled craftsman for the construction of the First Temple. Outside of the Bible itself, there is little historical information about these 10th-century kings, or evidence of trade with cities like Tyre, in what is now Lebanon. An earring pendant from this era—discovered a decade ago in the ancient Jerusalem neighborhood known as the Ophel, but only recently studied by experts—proves a rare exception. Brent Nagtegaal writes:

The basket pendant’s box is completely solid, measuring 4 x 4 x 2 millimeters. Two tubular parabolic handles, measuring just 0.5 mm in diameter, are attached to the corners of the basket and rise 6 mm above the top of the basket. An even narrower gold wire is tightly wrapped around the base of each parabolic handle, making a knop—perhaps an ancient artistic embellishment to hide the joint of the bars to the base. The top of the parabolic bars are joined together by golden wire wrapped three times around and then extending upward where it is snapped. The wire was probably originally connected to a suspension loop.

I took the artifact to Professor Naama Yahalom-Mack, excavator of the northern Israel site of Abel Beth Maacah and head of the metallurgy lab at the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University, to discover the metal composition of the pendant. She ran three composition tests using the xlr machine, confirming that the pendant was electrum—an alloy of gold and silver. This test confirmed the Ophel basket pendant to be the earliest “gold” artifact ever discovered in an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem to date.

Read more at Armstrong Archaeology

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria