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Stone Beads from the Temple Mount, Jerusalem: A relative chronology through high-resolution studies of bead technology

Abstract   

An assemblage of 72 carnelian and agate beads recovered from secondary debris removal associated with the Temple Mount Project, Jerusalem, provides new insight into the long chronology of human activity in an area that saw multiple periods of building, destruction, and rebuilding. Chronological attribution has been done by taking into consideration the overall shape and morphology of the beads, as well as aspects of production technology, specifically perforations made with distinctive types of drills. Based on stylistic, morphometric, and technological features, the earliest beads date to around the third millennium BCE, if not earlier, while others probably date between the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Most of the beads were made in styles and using technologies that date between the early centuries BCE/CE through the Medieval/Islamic period. A few beads appear to be very modern and attest to their continued importance to individuals active in the Temple Mount area. Carnelian beads are commonly associated with personal adornment in the form of necklaces, earrings, pendants, clothing decoration, or praying necklaces, and provide evidence for the deposition or loss of small articles atop this central location for over three millennia of human occupation in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

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Data availability

The new data relevant to this article are presented in the Supplementary Information Section.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the volunteers of the Temple Mount Project who sifted and carefully collected the beads reported in this study, to Franki Snyder for sorting and categorizing the entire beads assemblage for the TMSP, to Yael Elkayam for gemological identification of some of the beads, and to Dov Levitte for geological examination of some of the beads. Ludvik would also like to thank the scholars of the Israel Antiquities Authority who have facilitated access to other Levantine beads in the past, especially Amir Golani, Zvi Greenhut, and Alegre Savariego. Thank you to Jeff Blakely and Jimmy Hardin of the Tell el-Hesi Project. Additional thanks to Matt Adams and the staff of the W.F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem, as well as to Fr. Jose M. Abrego, S. J. and the Pontifical Biblical Institute-Jerusalem for accommodations and logistical help during this study. Kenoyer would specially like to thank the many scholars who have allowed him to study beads from their excavations in India, Pakistan, Oman, China and other countries. He would also like to thank his colleagues who collaborated on the study of beads in Khambhat, India, Dr. Kuldeep K. Bhan and Dr. Massimo Vidale and all the craftspeople in Khambhat who provided a detailed insight into traditional bead making technology. In addition, he would like to thank the many people he met in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, for the opportunity to study the traditional tools and diamond drills used in their workshops. Funding for Ludvik to study the Temple Mount beads and the comparative study of other beads from the Levant was provided in part by the American Schools of Oriental Research Sheeler Award, the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem Borowski Fellowship, the K.N. Dikshit Award, the Mazursky and Berman Awards from the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, research awards from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Departments of Anthropology, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and the Center for South Asia, as well as the Tell el-Hesi Regional Project. Funding for the SEM analysis and Kenoyer’s ongoing study of bead technology has been provided by numerous grants over the years, and most recently by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Award, donations from www.harappa.com and private donations.

Funding

Data collection for this study was funded in part by the American Schools of Oriental Research Sheeler Award, the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem Borowski Fellowship, the K.N. Dikshit Award, the Mazursky and Berman Awards from the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, research awards from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Departments of Anthropology, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and the Center for South Asia, as well as the Tell el-Hesi Regional Project. Funding for the SEM analysis and Kenoyer’s ongoing study of bead technology has been provided by numerous grants over the years, and most recently by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Award, donations from www.harappa.com and private donations. The Temple Mount Sifting Project is under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University, Israel, funded by private donors through the Israel Archaeology Foundation. The sifting activity operated with the cooperation and funding of the Ir-David Foundation. The 2019 movement of the sifting facility was funded by the American Friends of Beit Orot.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Geoffrey Ludvik and J. Mark Kenoyer. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Geoffrey Ludvik, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Geoffrey E. Ludvik.

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Supplementary Information

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12520_2022_1582_MOESM1_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file1 (JPG 1398 KB) Supplemental Fig. 1. Pecked perforation, very short cylindrical carnelian bead (TM73). a. General view of one side, 22X. b. Worn pecked surface and string wear on interior drill hole, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM2_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file2 (JPG 2512 KB) Supplemental Fig. 2. Copper and abrasive drilling, short barrel carnelian, heavily worn (TM16). a. General view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM3_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file3 (JPG 2506 KB) Supplemental Fig. 3. Copper and abrasive drilling, long barrel carnelian, heavily worn (TM9). a. General view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM4_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file4 (JPG 2225 KB) Supplemental Fig. 4. Copper and abrasive drilling, short barrel carnelian, heavily worn (TM55). a. General view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM5_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file5 (JPG 2664 KB) Supplemental Fig. 5. Copper and abrasive drilling, long barrel carnelian, heavily worn (TM51). a. General view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM6_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file6 (JPG 2442 KB) Supplemental Fig. 6. Copper and abrasive drilling, long barrel carnelian, heavily worn (TM66). a. General view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM7_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file7 (JPG 5233 KB) Supplemental Fig. 7. Double diamond drilling, short barrel carnelian whitened (TM 13). a. Tilted drill impression, general view, 22X. b. Slightly worn drilled surface, 100X. c. Drill tip, showing misaligned drill hole, 100X. d. Slightly worn drilled surface, 300X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM8_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file8 (JPG 5608 KB) Supplemental Fig. 8. Double Diamond, long barrel, dyed, banded agate (TM 35). a. Tilted drill impression showing drilling striae with bidirectional drilling patterns, general view, 22X. b. Worn drilled surface, 100X. c. Worn drilled surface at bead edge, 100X. d. Worn drilled surface, 300X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM9_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file9 (JPG 4980 KB) Supplemental Fig. 9. Diamond Drilling, spherical carnelian, twisted pattern (TM62, N24). a. Tilted drill impression, general view, 22X. b. Slightly worn drilled surface, 100X. c. Worn minimum interior diameter, 100X. d. Slightly worn and rounded drilled surface, 300X

12520_2022_1582_MOESM10_ESM.jpg

Supplementary file10 (JPG 4678 KB) Supplemental Fig. 10. Single and Double Diamond drilling, triangular pendant (Fig. 7.5) (TM 56, N18). a. Tilted drill impression, general view, 22X. b. Unworn, stepped drilled surface, 100X. c. Unworn, tip, 100X. d. Unworn, stepped drilled surface, 300X

Supplementary file11 (XLSX 24 KB) Appendix A. Temple Mount Bead Data

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Ludvik, G.E., Kenoyer, J.M., Klonymus, H.C. et al. Stone Beads from the Temple Mount, Jerusalem: A relative chronology through high-resolution studies of bead technology. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 14, 115 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-022-01582-7

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Keywords

  • Palestine/Israel
  • Jerusalem
  • Carnelian
  • Agate
  • Bead production
  • Trade