A unique gold ring with a delicate purple amethyst stone was discovered in the excavation of a Byzantine cellar complex in Yavne, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.
The wine factory was used to produce the legendary regional wine, known as Gaza or Ashkelon wine for the ports from where it was exported throughout the Mediterranean. The jewel was unearthed near one of the warehouses.
“The person who owned the ring was wealthy, and wearing the jewel indicated their status and wealth,” said Dr. Amir Golani, an IAA expert on antique jewelry. These rings can be worn by both men and women ”.
Amethysts are mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 precious stones worn by the high priest of the Temple in his ceremonial breastplate, he added. “Many virtues have joined this jewel [amethysts], including preventing the side effect of drinking, the hangover. “
According to archaeologists, there could be a connection between this quality attributed to the stone and the place where it was found.
“Did the person wearing the ring want to avoid poisoning from drinking too much wine? We will probably never know, “said Dr. Elie Haddad, IAA’s director of excavation, along with Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Jon Seligman.
A large number of jars were found in the warehouse, some of them turned upside down for storage or drying before being refilled with wine.
“It is possible that the splendid ring belonged to the owner of the magnificent warehouse, a foreman, or simply an unfortunate visitor, who dropped and lost his precious ring, until it was finally discovered by us,” Haddad noted.
The artifact was not conclusively dated. It was found in a filling dated between the end of the Byzantine period and the beginning of the early Islamic period, around the 7th century AD However, since similar rings (bands of gold inlaid with amethysts) were common in the Roman world, the gem it could have belonged to someone who lived in the city as early as the 3rd century AD
Recently, another ancient amethyst was found in an archaeological dig.
The stone, which dates back around 2,000 years, was recovered by volunteers sifting through soil excavated from the underground drainage canal below the main road that connects the Shiloah Pool on the outskirts of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount. The artifact was probably also placed in a ring. In addition, it was engraved with the figures of a bird and a branch, possibly the first representation ever discovered of the Biblical plant species known as “balsam of Gilead” or persimmon.
After the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai transferred the Sanhedrin, the supreme court and the legislative body in all matters from the Halacha, to Yavne.
During the Byzantine period it was an important Christian city, with a significant Jewish population.