Biblical Archaeology Review 37:3, May/June 2011

Strata: What Is It?

A. Hittite spool

B. Philistine earplug

C. Ammonite spinning top

D. An Egyptian chariot’s hub cap

E. Greek helmet holder

Answer: B) Philistine earplug

It is quite possible that no self-respecting, fashion-conscious Philistine would have left home without first having adorned his earlobes with decorative plugs. This one, a rounded conical ivory plug, was found in an 11th-century B.C.E. cultic area of the Philistine city of Ekron. It measures about 1.85 inches wide at its base and would have been worn through a large piercing in the lobe. In order to create a hole wide enough to fit such a large plug, the piercing would have been gradually expanded over time through the use of progressively larger plugs. The ridge at the plug’s base provided a secure fit to the lobe, while the plug’s conical head was meant to protrude from the lobe for the world to see. Other plugs found at Ekron are made of greenish-blue faience with protruding surfaces decorated in intricate rosette and petal designs commonly found in Egyptian jewelry of the period,a another sign that these plugs were worn primarily as fashion accessories.

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