|21 February 2004
Ancient necklace found in Israeli cave
Israeli archaeologists excavating caves near the Dead Sea have discovered a rare find – a woman's 2500-year-old fashion accessories. The hoard of jewellery, a makeup kit and a small mirror apparently belonged to Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon in the 6th century BCE, said Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. "This find is very rare. Both for the richness of the find and for that period, it is almost unheard of," Tsuk said.
Hidden under a stone-like accumulation of sediment thrown up by a nearby spring, archaeologists using metal detectors found a necklace made of 130 beads of semiprecious stones and gold, a scarab, an agate medallion of Babylonian origin and a silver pendant with an engraved crescent moon and pomegranates. They also found what appears to be a makeup kit containing an alabaster bowl for powders, a stick to apply the makeup and a bronze mirror. Tsuk said they also discovered a pagan stamp showing a Babylonian priest bowing to the moon.
When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 597 BCE he took many Jews into exile with him. These Jews and their descendants were later allowed to return by the Persian monarch Cyrus in 538 BCE. "These finds confirm the (biblical) accounts of Jews returning from exile in Babylon," Tsuk said.
The find was made by a joint team from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. The team has been excavating caves near the Dead Sea for the last three years.
Sources: Associated Press, news.com.au (20 February 2004)
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