Unique golden bell found in Jerusalem drain

Arutz Sheva (Israel National News.com) reports that archaeologists have “discovered a rare gold bell with a small hook at its end.”

The directors of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, said after the finding, “The bell looked as if it was sewn on the garment worn by a man of high authority in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period.

“The bell was exposed in the city’s main drainage channel of that period, between the layers of dirt that had been piled on the floor of the channel,” they continued. “This drainage channel was built and hewn west to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and drained the rainfall in the different parts of the city, through the City of David and the Shiloah Pool to the Kidron valley.”

The excavation area, above the drain, is located in the main street of Jerusalem which rose from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David. In this street an interchange was built through which people entered the Temple Mount. The remains of this interchange are what is known today as Robinson’s Arch. Archaeologists believe that the eminent man walked the streets of Jerusalem in the area of Robinson’s Arch and lost the golden bell which fell off his outfit into the drain beneath the street.

The full news report may be read here.

Golden bell found in Jerusalem drain. Photo: ynet.co.il.

Golden bell found in Jerusalem drain. Photo: IAA.

The best I can tell from the description of the location is that it is near the area of Robinson’s Arch. We saw workmen at the northern end of the drainage channel about which we have reported earlier (here) during our visit to the area in May. I understand that eventually the channel will be open all the way from the A.D. 70 street below Robinson’s Arch to the Pool of Siloam. I have lightened the area under the grill so you can see the workman’s arm.

Opening in A.D. 70 street below Robinson's Arch. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Opening in A.D. 70 street below Robinson's Arch. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I note in the news report that the archaeologists did not rule out the possibility that this bell might have belonged to one of the high priests. Actually, one can not rule out much of anything with so little information. My first thought almost simultaneously was the bells on the garments of the high priest and a woman’s jewelry. Note the earlier discovery of jewelry here.

The adornment of the priestly garment is described in Exodus.

“You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around:  a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe. (Exodus 28:33-34 NAU)

Jim Davila, at Paleojudaica, comments wisely on the suggestion that this bell might have belonged to a priest or a man of high authority:

Well, maybe. On the one hand it is true that the only references to golden bells in the Hebrew Bible are to bells on the vestments of the high priest (Exodus 28:33-34; 39:25-26). On the other hand, first, the only other mention of bells (a different Hebrew word) refers to horses’ trappings (Zechariah 14:20). Presumably, bells were used in many other contexts, so our sample of cultural allusions is limited. But, you say, what about golden bells? Well, second, Isaiah 3:16-18 refers to bangles that the rich women of Jerusalem wore on their ankles and which “tinkled” or made some kind of bangle noise. These ladies clearly had lots of jewelery and finery (cf. also vv. 19-23), so it seems entirely likely that they sometimes wore bells as jewelry and that some of those bells might well have been made of gold. And we know that Second-Temple-era ladies in Jerusalem had very nice gold earrings. So this bell need not have come from “a man of high authority.”

The Christian Standard Bible translation of Isaiah 3:16 is vivid:

The LORD also says: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, walking with heads held high and seductive eyes, going along with prancing steps, jingling their ankle bracelets, (Isaiah 3:16 CSB)

HT: Joseph Lauer

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3 responses to “Unique golden bell found in Jerusalem drain

  1. Congratulations for mentioning this comment objective Jim Davila.
    Indeed, there are several possibilities when people who have worn this type of ornament. It Nevertheless it is an interesting discovery.

    Thank you for your work.

  2. Pingback: Pequeno sino encontrado remete ao período do 2º templo | Davar Elohim

  3. Pingback: Pequeno sino encontrado remete ao período do 2º templo | davarelohim.com.br

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