Bar-Ilan University is currently funding a new field of research at the college in archaeological gemology. The study is meant to focus on ancient precious stones as well as minerals, covering themes such as origin, processing methods and identification.Professor Zohar Amar and Yael Elkayam of Bar-Ilan’s Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology will be leading the research.In recent years, Amar has made the focal point of his research studying precious stones, recently publishing his findings in a book titled The Beauty of Gemstone. Elkayam recently completed her dissertation focusing on the changes of fashion in which these gemstones were used, dating back from the Bronze Age to today.“Tens of thousands of raw and processed gemstones used to make jewelry, seals, scarabs and more were uncovered during excavations carried out in the Land of Israel during a variety of periods,” the university said in a statement. “To advance this research, Bar-Ilan University is establishing a unique laboratory featuring equipment that allows for analytical and absolute identification of precious stones found during the excavations.”
In line with the statement, Bar-Ilan has already examined over 1,500 gemstones from various places throughout the country, mostly coming from the State Treasury. With the new laboratory, identification can be accomplished without damaging the stones.The first projects that will be conducted once the laboratory is complete will involve precious stones found at the Temple Mount Sifting Projects, as well as minerals from the Bar Kochba Revolt discovered in a Judean Desert cave, allegedly used for “women’s cosmetics,” according to the university..