Archaeologists Discover Silver Earrings in Biblical City

Israeli and American archaeologists have found what appear to be silver hoop earrings discovered from a biblical-era site in northern Israel and believed to have been used for trade before the invention of coins.

The earrings were found along with silver ingots in a jug in the ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah in Israel. Archaeologists date the jewelry as being 3,200 years old, before the invention of the minted coin. The silver earrings were wrapped tightly in dense plant fibers and placed in the jug, which was not hidden but rather found leaning against a wall, north to a massive structure that may have been a tower in the city that lies near Lebanon's border.

"We found it in a small jug leaning against a wall, apparently on a dirt floor," head researchers Robert Mullins, Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil told LiveScience via email. "It didn't seem to have been deliberately hidden in a niche or any other hidey-hole."

Mullins added in a press release announcing the discovery that the earrings date back to the time of the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings described in the Hebrew Scriptures. "The jug and its contents appear to be Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age, in the 13th century BC, the time of the Exodus and wilderness wanderings described in the Hebrew Scriptures," said Mullins, who led the excavation and is also an associate professor of biblical studies at Azusa Pacific University. "This is one of only 20 silver hoards ever found in Israel."

Mullins, along with Panitz-Cohen and Bonfil, recently published their findings from Abel Beth Maacah in the journal Strata. The researchers wrote in their findings report that it remains undetermined why the owners of the jug never returned to retrieve their belongings.

"Perhaps the family needed to leave their home suddenly and hoped to return to retrieve this jug and its contents, but were unable to," the researchers suggested, adding that afterwards, the ancient guardian city "was covered by accumulating debris and earth over the centuries, [and] no one knew that the treasure was there."

Azusa Pacific University stated, "For Mullins, the intriguing discovery confirmed his belief that this biblically significant site, once an ancient guardian city on the border of Lebanon, lies rich with treasures waiting to be unearthed."