Israeli archaeologists find rare ancient jewelry

Associated Press
In this photo taken Wednesday, May 23, 2012 an ancient jewel discovered by Israeli archaeologists is displayed at the Tel Aviv University, Israel. Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a stash of rare ancient jewelry near the site of the biblical Armageddon in the north of the country. Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, who co-directed the dig, said this week that the find offers a rare glimpse into ancient Canaanite high society. The 3,000-year-old jewelry was found inside a ceramic vessel, suggesting the owner hid them before fleeing, he said. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli archaeologists have discovered a rare trove of 3,000-year-old jewelry, including a ring and earrings, hidden in a ceramic jug near the ancient city of Megiddo, where the New Testament predicts the final battle of Armageddon.

Archaeologists who unearthed the jug during excavations at the site in 2010 left it in a laboratory while they waited for a molecular analysis of what was inside. When they were finally able to clean it, pieces of gold jewelry — a ring, earrings, and beads — dating to around 1100 B.C. poured out.

Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, who co-directed the dig, said that the find offers a rare glimpse into ancient Canaanite high society. He said the fact that the jewelry was found inside the jug suggested that the owner hid them there.

Finkelstein said the jewelry likely belonged to a Canaanite family.

"We can guess that it was a rich family, probably belonging to the ruling elite," he said.

Tel Aviv University called the trove "among the most valuable ever found from the Biblical period," adding that one piece in particular, a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, or wild goats, is "without parallel."

It said in a statement this week that the objects were either owned by Egyptians living in the area or inspired by the Egyptian style of the period.

Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, said that because the raw materials used come are not from the area, the find "tells us about international relations ... and about technical traditions used at the time."

Megiddo was an important trade center in ancient times. According to the New Testament, Megiddo will be the site of the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

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