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Ancient Bracelet with Menorah Depictions Discovered in Israel

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Just in time for the holiday season, Israeli archaeologists found a glass bracelet engraved with a menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum symbolizing the Hanukkah.

The discovery took place in the Mount Carmel National Park, a location in Haifa, Israel that researchers believe used to be a large settlement back in the late Roman or early Byzantine period. The national park is declared an antiquities site, and archaeologists are working in it before a new water reservoir is excavated in the area.

A routine dig was scheduled for Dec. 18. During the process, excavators discovered a box in a garbage pit, which contained hundreds of fragments of glass inside. One of the glass pieces was part of a bracelet. After being cleaned, the artifact turned out to be made out of turquoise-colored glass and decorated with a menorah.

According to Dan Krizner and Limor Talmi, excavation directors from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the bracelet was likely to have been stamped with menorah details while it was still hot. The fragment from the glass bracelet showed two menorahs but one was depicted lit, showing a single flame atop each branch.

Yael Gorin-Rasen, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority ancient glass department, said that glass bracelets with menorahs are not exactly unusual in the region. In fact, jewelry with such designs can be found not just in Israel but also in Syria and Lebanon. What was noteworthy was the fact that the piece of glass jewelry was found in a settlement area, and in an even rarer chance, in a garbage pit. Typically, jewelry similar to the bracelet with menorah is used as offerings so such pieces should be located in funeral areas.

One way of explaining the presence of the glass bracelet in a settlement is that it may have been part of refuse from a workshop. While there is the possibility that Jews thrived in the area from the late Roman to the early Byzantine periods, it is just as possible for Samaritans, pagans or Christians to have lived in the area.

The presence of other glass debris in the garbage pit supports the idea that the discovery site was a workshop doing business with other parts of the region. If the Mount Carmel National Park was home to an industrial area, it is certainly possible that goods were produced in the settlement for use within it and for selling to other markets.

The glass fragment discovered is estimated to be from a 1,600-year-old bracelet.

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