A nine-year-old boy taking part in a volunteer archeological dig project has discovered what appears to be an incredibly well-preserved gold bead from the First Temple period that could be close to 3,000 years old.
Volunteer grade school student Binyamin Milt discovered the tiny, 6mm x 4mm artefact while working on the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP), a Bar-Ilan University initiative created in 2004 and dedicated to recover and study ancient relics from debris removed from the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem without proper care.
The three-dimensional, dissected corn husk-like piece of jewelry has four layers, each consisting of tiny golden globules connecting to one another in the shape of a flower. TMSP says the bead’s ancient manufacturing method is called granulation, with gold or silver granules attached to one another in a two or three-dimensional manner in a circular arrangement. The process of creating the jewelry is said to have been highly technologically advanced, involving the use of high temperature smelting, chemical processing and skilled artisanry.
The immaculate preservation of the bead over so many centuries initially led the archaeologist supervising the sifting to believe that it was a modern item.
Archaeologists estimate the bead dates back to the Second Iron Age and the time of the First Temple – ie, about the time of the Ancient Temple of Solomon which existed between 950 and 586 BC, making it at least 2,500 years old, and possibly close to 3,000 years old.
The artefact is particularly rare, TMSP says, since other, similar beads found in the same area were made of silver, and jewelry of pure gold was extremely uncommon and usually imported from elsewhere. What’s more, although beads have been found in the region, they date back ‘only’ from the 13th century BC to the 4th century BC.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project, which relies on a combination of volunteers, tourists, and public donations to keep going, has found a wide variety of historical artefacts going all the way back to the Stone Age, and all the way up to the Ottoman period (1517-1917) and the British Mandate for Palestine (1917-1948), with objects ranging from pottery and amulets to fragments of statues, figurines, architectural remains, and coins.
The golden bead’s discovery is literally a small piece of an immense range of historically and archaeologically significant items found in and around the city of Jerusalem. In recent years, archaeologists have unearthed everything from hidden architectural sites to evidence of locations and persons mentioned in the Bible, and evidence that could help climate scientists uncover clues about how the Earth’s magnetic field functioned thousands of years ago.