Archaeologists reveal ancient treasure in Biblical city
Archaeologists who have been excavating in an ancient city located in present-day Israel have revealed a host of treasures they have uncovered during the dig, including a 3,200-year-old jug containing silver earrings and ingots.
The findings were made in the ancient biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah, now called Tell Abil el-Qameh, and located in northern Israel. The jug with treasure was found just to the north of a "massive structure," as the researchers call it, which may have been a tower overlooking the Huleh Valley. At some point the massive structure fell into disuse and domestic dwellings were built to the north, the treasure perhaps dating to this time.
The researchers have said that the finding is unusual considering that there were no signs that the treasure had been hidden, raising the question as to why the original owners didn’t go back to retrieve it?
"We found it in a small jug leaning against a wall, apparently on a dirt floor," said researchers Robert Mullins, Nava Panitz-Cohen and Ruhama Bonfil. "It didn't seem to have been deliberately hidden in a niche or any other hidey-hole... Perhaps the family needed to leave their home suddenly and hoped to return to retrieve this jug and its contents, but were unable to."
The treasure inside the jug consisted of five hoop earrings, a silver object that looks like a twisted knot, and several silver ingots or scrap pieces of silver which would have been used for monetary transactions, since it dates to a time in which minted coins had not yet been invented.
The archaeology team has not yet pieced together the history of the ancient city of Abel Beth Maacah, who its inhabitants were, and when and why it was abandoned. The period around 3,200 years ago was a time when many cities were destroyed and some civilizations collapsed. Ancient records indicate an enigmatic group called the "Sea People" descended on the Middle East. However, the researchers believe that the city was probably inhabited by Canaanites, or by Israelite tribes.
The city was used for a long period of time after the silver treasure was abandoned and is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible. According to scripture, a Benjaminite, who was rebelling against King David, took refuge in the city. A man named Joab pursued him there and laid siege. A "wise woman," as the text calls her, protested this action, saying Abel Beth Maacah is part of Israel.
"We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord's inheritance?" (From 2 Samuel 20:14-22, New International Version)
The siege ended when the city's inhabitants killed the rebel and threw his head from the wall. Some scholars believe that King David would have lived about 3,000 years ago, roughly two centuries after the silver treasure was abandoned. While the biblical story doesn't shed light on why the treasure was abandoned, it illustrates the importance of the city in the time that followed.
By John Black