May 2012: Archaeologists have discovered a collection of ancient jewelry hidden in a vessel at Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures, Professor Israel Finkelstein, stated the vessel was discovered in 2010 but remained uncleaned while awaiting a molecular analysis of its contents.
Finkelstein is co-director of the excavation of Tel Megiddo along with TAU Professor Emeritus David Ussishkin and Associate Director Professor Eric Cline of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Dated from about 1100 BCE, one of the pieces is a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes [wild goats] and considered “without parallel.” When the team was able to wash out the dirt, pieces of jewelry, including a ring, earrings and beads tumbled from the vessel. The jewelry had been wrapped in textiles, stated Ussishkin, who believes it belonged to a Canaanite woman who lived in the house where the collection was found in the northern part of Megiddo.
The jewelry belongs to a time period called “Iron I,” and at least some of the jewelry could have originated in Egypt. The collection also includes a number of moon-shaped earrings of common Canaanite origin as well as many gold items and a number of carnelian beads, common in Egyptian jewelry of the period.
Tel Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state until the early 10th century BCE and a pivotal center of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. The layer in which the jewelry was found has been dated to the 11th century BCE, just after the end of Egyptian rule in the 12th century BCE.