Ancient Golden Earring Discovered Hidden in a Jar in Israel

By Veronique Greenwood | May 23, 2012 3:01 pm

golden earring

This beautiful golden earring, decorated with figures of goats, was one of a trove of jewelry pieces that were wrapped in cloth and stuffed into a jar discovered by archaeologists at the Tel Meggido dig in Israel. When the team flushed the jar’s interior with water, earrings, a ring, and carnelian beads came tumbling out.

They aren’t sure why the jewelry was in the jar, but they posit that it could have been hidden there by the inhabitants of the home where the jar was found for safekeeping. The layer of soil where the find occurred dates from the 11th century BCE, a period when Meggido was under Egyptian rule, and the team believes the jewelry is either of Egyptian origin or inspired by Egyptian designs.

Image courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University

  • JulmeisterUSA

    The gold could have been carried out of Egypt by the Israelites when Pharoe set them free from slavery, (if the timeline matches up.)

  • m

    I have a question –

    Did it have a clasp/pin design like modern earnings are designed? Or was it a very long hook? I’m just curious because it would impact on how their ears were pierced.

    I’m just learning now – thanks to having 2 daughters – that ear piercing today is specifically designed for earings that work like a “pin” and not a “hook”. Hook-like earings today are only modified pins and not a true hook design (for the most part).

    This according to the young lady piercing my kids’ ears.

  • deacibi

    Yes, I had the exact same question. How was the earring designed to attach to the ear in those days?

  • Meryt

    Around 1000bc, Egyptians, wealthy men and women, had pierced ears. Earrings could be studs or rings. The stud shanks were often quite large, sometimes more like a plug. For ring earrings, part of the ring opene up like a door, to be pushed through the ear. The dangly hook earring occurs with the Greeks and the Romans.

    There are some on this page.

  • The Reading Scientist

    I am floored by the quality of the craftsmanship on such a small piece. It is very intricate and stunning. To the previous reviewers, Thank you, I was wondering the same thing.

  • Ranger Jim Kirk

    Thanks, M and Meryt.

    My daughter got her ears pierced back in her early teens (in the mid 80s) and (being a guy) I never knew that the ear piercings and earrings had changed.

  • tOM Trottier

    I didn’t even know they had jars then! Or was it pottery?

  • Leo

    I was wondering why the scale was in inches at the bottom since just about the entire scientific world uses metric. Then I discovered the dig was financed by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University. So I suppose they insist on reporting results in imperial units.


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