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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:2, Summer 2023

What Is It?

1. Bronze Napkin Holder

2. Gold Bead

3. Floral Pendant

4. Electrum Crown

5. Petrified Doughnut

Answer: 2. Gold Bead

While sifting material from a Roman building in the City of David excavations in Jerusalem, a volunteer discovered a tiny gold bead. The bead, more than 1,600 years old, was created through a complex and delicate process, affixing 14 tiny golden balls together into a ring shape.

While beautiful and precious, the tiny gold bead is likely only a small part of a necklace or bracelet. This style of bead, which likely first appeared in Mesopotamia around 4,500 years ago, was uncommon due to the complex technique that it took to create such works of jewelry. A few other beads of this style have been discovered in excavations around Israel, but nearly all were made from silver instead of gold.

The bead came from a building, possibly a house, dated to the Roman period (c. 37 BCE–324 CE) and excavated in the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road, a controversial underground tunnel that follows the ancient Roman road. The building sat on this ancient road and likely belonged to a wealthy family.

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