Antiquities experts have put on show a stunning display of ancient Roman gold jewellery buried with a young girl to save her from evil spirits in the afterlife.
The haul was originally found in a lead-lined coffin which had been buried nearly 2,000 years ago.
But astonishingly, it had been left gathering dust on an archive shelf in Israel for more than 50 years.
The treasures had been discovered in a burial cave on Mount Scopus in 1971 by the late archaeologist Yael Adler.
The jewellery includes gold earrings, a hairpin, a gold pendant and gold beads, carnelian beads and a glass bead.
The items inside were inscribed with symbols of Luna – the Roman moon goddess – and were believed to have the ability to provide protection in the afterlife.
After their discovery, the relics were noted and archived and then apparently completely forgotten.
It was not until experts from the Israeli Antiquities Authority set up a project to discover lost treasures that they re-emerged.
Now the jewellery is on display to the public for the first time at the 48th Archaeological Congress organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Exploration Society and the Israel Archaeological Association.
Eli Escusido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, is quoted in a statement obtained by Newsflash from Israel Antiquities Authority as saying: “The interring of the jewellery together with the young girl is touching.
“One can imagine that their parents or relatives parted from the girl, either adorned with the jewellery, or possibly lying by her side, and thinking of the protection that the jewellery provided in the world to come.”
The experts believe the girl probably had the jewellery in her lifetime, and after her death it was buried with her for protection.
According to the research, two similar gold earrings were discovered in another excavation carried out by Prof. Vassilios Tzaferis on behalf of the Department of Antiquities on the Mount of Olives in 1975.
The statement says: “It seems that the girl was buried with an expensive set of gold jewellery that included earrings, a chain with a lunula pendant (named after the goddess Luna), and a hairpin,” according to a report by the researchers.
They continued: “These items of jewellery are known in the Roman world and are characteristic of young girl burials, possibly providing evidence of the people who were buried at these sites. Late Roman Jerusalem—renamed Aelia Capitolina—had a mixed population that reached the city after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the evacuation of the Jewish population.
“People from different parts of the Roman Empire settled in the city, bringing with them a different set of values, beliefs and rituals. The pagan cult of the city’s new population was rich and varied, including gods and goddesses, among them the cult of the moon goddess Luna.”
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