A broken bracelet which features a model of the seven-branched candelabrum from the Temple was discovered last Thursday by the Israel Antiquities Authority, it announced Tuesday, near a dig near Elyakim in the Mount Carmel National Park.
Archaeological excavations have been conducted over the past several weeks, to check for artifacts before building a pool in Yokneam, initiated by the Mekorot organization.
During the excavation, archaeologists discovered an ancient industrial zone and refuse pits of a large community, estimated to date back to the end of the Roman and early Byzantine period (end of the 4th century, the beginning of the 5th century AD).
According to Limor Talmi and Dan Kirzner, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “on Thursday, at the end of the excavation, we began processing the initial finds.”
“During sorting the contents of one of the boxes, which included hundreds of broken glass thrown into a garbage pit, we found to our surprise, a small fraction of a bracelet. Naturally it was very dirty, but still, you could see that it was decorated.”
”After cleaning, were excited to find that the bracelet, made of turquoise glass, was decorated with symbols of a seven-branched menorah – the same lamp which, according to tradition, a flask of pure oil illuminated the temple for eight days [one of the miracles of Hannukah – ed.].”
According to the researchers, “it seems that the imprint on the bracelet was made when the glass was hot. Two small fractions of the bracelet have survived – one shows a simple seven-branched menorah, and the other shows a seven-branched menorah with flames.”
Yael Gorin-Rosen, head of the glass department in the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “bracelets and pendants are made of glass adorned with the logo lamp or a lion, or different characters of gods and animals, were common during these periods in Israel, Lebanon and Syria.”
“So far, there have been discovered in archaeological excavations three fragments of bracelets decorated with the menorah: [they were found in an] excavation in Bab al Hawa in the northern Golan Heights, an excavation in Banias, and another bracelet was discovered in excavations years ago in Shikmona, Haifa. The Shikmona bracelet also featured flames.”
Gorin-Rosen said, “Such excavations with the jewelry usually surface in the context of burials. It is rare to find such items under layers of debris, and even rarer to find them in an ancient garbage pit.”
“The question now is – is this any definite proof that the Jews lived here?” she added. “Perhaps, but it could be that the Samaritans lived here, or a pagan or Christian population.”
“Another hypothesis is that a workshop originated in the area, along with other markets,” she explained, noting that it would explain the existence and placement of the garbage pit.
“Glass jewelry was widely used in the Late Roman period and were highly decorated, but were especially expensive – even without decoration,” she added. “Trash discovered in the pit included a lot of glassware, including many fragments of glass windows, and a selection of jewelry, indicative of a population pool which was comfortable and healthy. It is possible that the large industrial area instead supported the residents of the nearby community.”