Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old bronze ring with a solitaire gemstone in what could be a former ritual bath, or mikveh, in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.
A Jewish penitent might have misplaced the ring after undergoing a ritual purification and before he embarked on a 2,000-foot climb toward the Temple Mount.
“The ring was found by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists in what appears to be an ancient mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) on the Pilgrimage Road, which dates back to the time of the second Temple period,” reported the Jewish News Syndicate.
The Biblical City of David in the period of Herod’s Temple, from the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. The southern wall of the Temple Mount appears at top. Photo by Ariely CC BY 3.0
“The ancient paved road runs up from the Shiloach (Siloam) pool to the Temple Mount, and is thought to have been the main thoroughfare taken by pilgrims to the Temple.”
Specifically, they found the ring in a bucket of dirt excavated from a structure on the side of the broad 24-foot-wide road. It has a bluish stone. The ring is small, and would today fit on a hand’s pinkie.
Remains of the Second Temple Pool of Siloam. Photo by Markbarnes CC BY-SA 4.0
“Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists Nachshon Zenton, Moran Hajabi, Ari Levy and Joe Uziel said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
“This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual’s personal story from 2,000 years ago. The ring, along with other finds, can shed light and expose the lives of people during the Second Temple period,” they said in a statement.
The Second Temple period stretched from 530 BC to 70 AD and ended with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Part of the Large Stone Structure asserted by archaeologist Eilat Mazar to be the remains of King David’s palace. Photo by Deror avi CC BY-SA 3.0
Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation, which oversees the City of David National Park where the ring was found, said, “It’s incredible to think that this beautiful ring sat at the bottom of a mikvah on the ancient Pilgrimage Road for 2,000 years until it was uncovered by archaeologists in the City of David. It is yet another piece in the puzzle that is ancient Jerusalem.”
The City of David is Israel’s largest active archeological site, found at the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is the place recorded in the Bible where King David established Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel 3,000 years ago.
The first headquarters of the Knights Templar, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Crusaders called it the Temple of Solomon. Photo by Andrew Shiva CC BY-SA 4.0
The ring isn’t the first such artifact found at the Temple of David site. Earlier in 2018 archaeologists found a golden earring from the earlier Hellenistic period. The earring featured a horned animal.