The Ketef Hinnom excavations revealed one of the largest collections of ancient jewelry ever found in Jerusalem. Countless pieces of gold, silver and precious stones worn by Jerusalem’s wealthier residents from the Iron Age to the Roman period were recovered, including a remarkably well preserved pair of gold earrings in the shape of stylized animal heads from the Persian period and an ornate gold earring inlaid with carnelian beads from the Roman era.

In the Chamber 25 repository, more than a hundred silver and gold objects were also found, as well as myriad beads of agate, carnelian, glass and faience. Many of the earrings are decorated with intricate patterns of applied silver granulation, a decorative technique also known from Phoenician and Etruscan jewelry. The beads would have been strung together as colorful necklaces that were then placed around the neck of the deceased. Other deposits in the repository were silver rings, pendants and a signet ring engraved with the figure of a galloping griffin.

The Ketef Hinnom collection speaks to the cosmopolitan character of Jerusalem society during the final years of the Judahite monarchy, as well as, surprisingly, the decades following the Babylonian destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. Jerusalem’s wealthy adorned themselves with the same fashions and jewels found in any ancient Near Eastern capital of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. Perhaps it was precisely such splendid displays of wealth that provoked the ire of the prophet Isaiah, who admonished Jerusalem’s wealthy:

“In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands and the crescents, the pendants, the bracelets and the scarves, the headdresses, the armlets and sashes, the perfume boxes and the amulets, the signet rings and nose rings” (Isaiah 3:18–21).