Gold jewelry dating from the days of the Roman Empire is being displayed for the first time by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the 48th Archaeology Congress in Jerusalem.
Necklaces worn by girls to ward off the evil eye about 1,800 years old were found in a coffin on Mount Scopus along with gold earrings, a hairpin and various beads in 1971, and the IAA revealed its study’s findings on Monday.
“Mapping information, which lies for years gathering dust in the archives, together with the physical findings in the dig shone a light on long-forgotten archaeological treasures,” said Dr. Ayelet Dayan from the IAA. “The gold jewelry we researched is an example of such treasure.”
Lead researchers Dayan, Ayelet Gruber and Dr. Yuval Baruch concluded that the jewelry, which bears the mark of the Roman goddess of the moon Luna, was worn by girls for protection in life and was buried with them to protect them in heaven.
“The girl was buried with what seems to be a luxury gold set that included earrings, a necklace with a pendant called lunula (named after the goddess) and a hairpin,” the researchers said. “This jewelry is known from the Roman world and characterizes the burial of girls which can tell us something about the society that was buried in these locations.
“In Roman Jerusalem, which was called Aelia Capitolina at that time, a diverse society arrived in the city after the destruction of the Temple and the dissolution of the Jewish community. These residents came to the city from various parts of the Roman Empire and imported with them a whole new world of values, art and faiths.
"Everyone can identify with the need to protect offspring, no matter what culture or era."Eli Eskozido
Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem after the Bar-Kochba rebellion in 135 CE.
“The burial of the jewelry with the girls is touching,” said IAA Manager Eli Eskozido. “You can really imagine how their parents or their relatives said goodbye to a girl while she’s wearing the jewelry or it’s laid by her side while they think about the protection that will lead their loved one to wherever she’s going. It’s a very human situation. Everyone can identify with the need to protect offspring, no matter what culture or era.”
Who is the Roman goddess Luna?
Luna is the goddess of the moon in Roman mythology and the sister of Sol (god of the sun) and Aurora (goddess of dawn). The use of Luna for protection may stem from the mythology in which she falls in love with Endymion, a man who is either a shepherd or an astronomer. Luna descends to Earth every night to protect her beloved.