Archeological digs in North unearth rare signet ring

The rare find at the major port bears an intricate impression of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, light, and music.

September 20, 2010 05:19
2 minute read.
Ancient ring discovered

ancient ring. (photo credit: University of Haifa)


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An ancient bronze signet ring excavated recently in Tel Dor, near Zichron Ya’acov, indicates that well-heeled elites were living in the area during the Hellenistic era, archaeologists from the University of Haifa reported on Sunday.

The rare find at the major port bears an intricate impression of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, light, and music. According to Dr. Ayelet Gilboa, head of the university’s Department of Archeology, “A piece of highquality art such as this, doubtlessly created by a top-of-the-line artist, indicates that local elites developing a taste for fine art and the ability to afford it were also living in provincial towns, and not only in the capital cities of the Hellenistic kingdoms.”

The true nature of the find was only revealed after it was taken to be examined by Dr. Jessica Nitschke, professor of classical archeology at Georgetown University in Washington and Dr. Rebecca Martin, assistant professor of art at Southeast Missouri State University. Upon further examination, both scholars confirmed that the image on the ring is that of Apollo.

The signet ring dates to the 4th or 3rd century BCE.Rings of its type were used as seal or as an offering to the god whose image adorns them.

Unlike the Apollo signet, most similar pieces of art from the area were displaced over time by traders or collectors, making it hard to trace their origin.

Archeologists who found the signet said that it signifies that the region was a cosmopolitan area as far back as 2,300 years ago and that luxurious objects were not limited only to the capital cities of the Hellenistic kingdoms , such as Antioch or Alexandria, but also existed in places like Dor , where the population was predominantly local Phoenicians. It was found in the same area as a gemstone bearing the image of Alexander the Great and an intricate Hellenistic mosaic floor, both of which were unearthed during earlier excavations. These finds were all linked to a structure that is now undergoing excavations, and which archeologists believe constitutes a grand structure.

Dor was an important Mediterranean shore from 2000 BCE to 250 CE and was at one point one of the centers of Greek culture in the Land of Israel. The area has been the site of ongoing excavations for around 30 years and is in the process of being selected as a national park by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The archeological teams excavating the area include professors from Haifa and from the Hebrew University, as well as educators from the University of Washington in Seattle and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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