Have you ever lost a ring by taking it off to wash your hands and forgetting to put it on again? You’re not alone! In fact, it appears that the same thing happened to a pilgrim some 2,000 years ago as they were on their way to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In The City of David National Park, just south of the Temple Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is excavating the “Way of the Pilgrimage.” The stone-paved street leading up towards the temple was one of Jerusalem’s major avenues during the Second Temple Period. Doubtless, thousands of pilgrims made their way along the stepped avenue after cleansing themselves in the Siloam Pool, farther south along the same street.
The Siloam Pool was one of several ritual baths along the path to the temple where pilgrims could cleanse themselves. Archaeologists identified a structure beside the street as one of these baths, called a mikveh in Hebrew. Within the structure archaeologists revealed a well-preserved bronze ring inlayed with a precious stone. The tiny ring was exposed during soil sifting which the City of David conducts in the Emek Tzurim National Park.
Archaeologists Nachshon Zenton, Moran Hajabi, Ari Levy and Dr. Joe Uziel say, “This ring enables us all to touch a human moment 2,000 years ago.” Ancient material culture often does more than inform us of ancient peoples in general. As in this case, artifacts can tell a story about an individual person, and open a door to someone’s life thousands of years ago. “As in the past,” the archaeologists say, “rings and jewelry were dropped during bathing, and they were forgotten. This phenomenon, perhaps, is behind the discovery of the ring in what appears to be a ritual bath.”
Perhaps one day - thousands of years from now - archaeologists will find your lost ring too!
Abby VanderHart - FIAA Contributor