Rare gold bell discovered in excavations in Jerusalem
24 Jul 2011, Israel Antiquities Authority
The bell was apparently sewn to the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period.
Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority
(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority)
A rare gold bell with a small loop at its end was discovered during an archaeological excavation in the drainage channel that begins in the Shiloah Pool and continues from the City of David to the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, near the Western Wall. The excavations are being conducted at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and underwritten by Ir David Foundation.
According to the excavation directors, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, "It seems the bell was sewn on the garment worn by a high official in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period (first century CE). The bell was exposed inside Jerusalem’s main drainage channel at that time, among the layers of earth that had accumulated along the bottom of it. This drainage channel was built and hewn the length of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, on the bottom of the slope descending to the Tyropoeon Valley. This drainage channel conveyed rainwater from different parts of the city, by way of the City of David and the Shiloah Pool, to Nahal Kidron.
The main street of the Jerusalem is in the region of the excavation, above the drainage channel. This road ascended from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David and an interchange, known today as ‘Robinson’s Arch’, was built in it, by way of which people entered the Temple Mount. Apparently, the high official was walking in the Jerusalem street in the vicinity of Robinson’s Arch and lost the gold bell that fell from his garment into the drainage channel beneath the road.
We know from sources that the high priests, who served in the Temple, used to hang a gold bell from the fringes of their robe. Thus, for example, in the ‘Tetzaveh’ Torah portion, in the Book of Exodus, there is a description of the high priest Aaron’s robe: "All of blue… it shall have a binding of woven work… And upon the skirts of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about." It is impossible to know for certain if the bell did indeed belong to one of the high priests; however, the possibility should not be entirely discounted.