The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a unique bracelet in an excavation in northern Israel, dating back to the Late Bronze Age.
The "extraordinarily well preserved" ancient bronze bracelet is decorated with engravings and the top of it is adorned with a horned structure, said Karen Covello-Paran, chief archaeologist of the dig.
"At that time, horns were the symbol of the storm-god and they represented power, fertility and law," she said.
This is the first time that a 3,500-year-old village has been excavated and exposed in the north of Israel, according to the IAA. To date, only the large cities have been excavated in the region, such as Tel Megiddo or Tel Hazor.
"Here we have gained a first glimpse of life in the ancient rural hinterland in the north, and it turns out that it was more complex than we thought," Covello-Paran said.
A Canaanite scarab made of stone and engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs was also found. In antiquity, scarabs were worn as pendants or were inlaid in rings, and they were used as a seal by the people who carried them or as a talisman with magical powers, the statement said.
The finds were uncovered while preparing infrastructure in an area near the mountain town of Zefat, north of the Sea of Galilee and not far from the Lebanese border.
Hypothesis: It was used by the village ruler
The first known village from this period in all of northern Israel was uncovered in an excavation, which was took place in the vicinity of Zefat, with funding provided by the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Housing.
An unusual and intriguing find that is fascinating the archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority was exposed in archaeological excavations at Ramat Razim, southeast of Zefat.
The excavations were carried out within the framework of the development of the region in which new neighborhoods, commercial areas and a medical school are slated to be built. In the current stage of the development the infrastructure system for the entire project will be built, foremost of which is a new approach road to the city of Zefat, which is being advanced on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Housing by the Yaffe Nof Company and its team of professionals.
According to Karen Covello-Paran, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "We discovered a wide rare bracelet made of bronze. The ancient bracelet, which is extraordinarily well preserved, is decorated with engravings and the top of it is adorned with a horned structure. At that time horns were the symbol of the storm-god and they represented power, fertility and law. The person who could afford such a bracelet was apparently very well off financially, and it probably belonged to the village ruler. It is interesting to note that in the artwork of neighboring lands gods and rulers were depicted wearing horned crowns; however, such a bracelet, and from an archaeological excavation at that, has never been found here”.
The bracelet was found inside an estate house dating to the Canaanite period (the Late Bronze Age) that was exposed in the excavation, and which was part of an ancient settlement that existed on the southeastern slope of Ramat Razim, in a rocky area that overlooks the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. The building was made of indigenous limestone and included a paved central courtyard surrounded by rooms that were lived in and used as storerooms. Along with the bracelet, a Canaanite scarab was found that is made of stone and engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs. In antiquity scarabs were worn as pendants or were inlaid in rings, and they were used as a seal by the people who carried them or as a talisman with magical powers. We also learn from these valuable finds that the residents of the building were also engaged in barter.
According to archaeologist Covello-Paran, “This is the first time that a 3,500 year old village has been excavated and exposed in the north of Israel. To date, only the large cities have been excavated in the region, such as Tel Megiddo or Tel Hazor. Here we have gained a first glimpse of life in the ancient rural hinterland in the north, and it turns out that it was more complex than we thought. It seems that the small village at Ramat Razim constituted part of the periphery of Tel Hazor, the largest and most significant city in the Canaanite region at the time, which is located c. 10 kilometers north of the settlement at Ramat Razim”.
“The ancient inhabitants of Ramat Razim raised sheep and goats, and farmed. Numerous basalt querns that were used for grinding wheat into flour were found in the building. In addition, we also found large storage vessels that were used to store grain and liquids, which stood on the floor to a height of more than a meter. An ancient oven for cooking was found in one of the residential rooms alongside ceramic cookware and tools, including flint blades, and intact bronze implements such as a long needle (15 centimeters) for sewing sacks or treating skins, and a long decorated pin that was used to fasten a dress or gown”.
The Israel Antiquities Authority is working to integrate the site in the extensive development plans for Ramat Razim, alongside the research institute and medical school, as an open place for visitors, together with the other assets of nature that exist in the region.