Biblical Archaeology Review 44:5, September/October 2018

Strata: Jolly Old Saint Nick’s Ring…in a Jezreel Valley Garden

A medieval signet ring was uncovered this past February during routine gardening in the Jezreel Valley moshav HaYogev. Engraved with the image of a bald man with a staff, the bronze piece most likely represents St. Nicholas holding a bishop’s crook.

In popular imagination, St. Nicholas is synonymous with the gift-giving Santa Claus, but in the Christian world, he has always been venerated as the patron saint of travel. Because of this association, the image of St. Nicholas was often carried by sailors and pilgrims.

The garden in which the buried ring was discovered is located on the ancient road leading to Mount Tabor, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. Experts at the Israel Antiquities Authority believe the ring may have belonged to a Christian pilgrim passing through the area to visit the holy sites sometime in the 12th–15th centuries. The ring is now part of the Israel Antiquities Authority National Treasure Department.

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