A bronze ring with a beautiful gemstone is just half the story in a surprising archaeological find from Israel. Experts say the ring also has a unique backstory: it was dropped in a mikveh, or ritual bath, about 2,000 years ago.
The ancient jewelry, found in a roadside ditch in Jerusalem's City of David National park, probably belonged to a penitent (a kind of pilgrim) who left the ring behind after washing themselves in a ritual.
The Times of Israel reports that such ancient tourists would perform the purifying ritual before climbing the Temple Mount to visit holy sites, according to experts.
"Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing," a team of archaeologists from the Israeli Antiquities Authority explained to The Jerusalem Post.
"This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual's personal story from 2,000 years ago."
At the time the ring was misplaced, the Holy Land was under Roman occupation but still a popular destination for thousands of pilgrims from around the world.
In a video posted on Facebook by the City of David, archaeologist Nahshon Szanton retraced the path pilgrims might have taken at the historic site.
לסיור בדרך עולי הרגל - הקליקו >>
לאחר 6 שנים של חפירות מרתקות ב"דרך עולי הרגל" וחשיפת גרם המדרגות האדיר אשר שימש את עולי הרגל בדרכם אל בית המקדש, תוך עשרות גילויים מפתיעים ומרגשים מתולדות ירושלים הקדומה נחשון זנטון - אשר ניהל את החפירה המרשימה הזו, יוצא לכתיבת דוקטורט במטרה לסכם את כל הממצאים החשובים שנאספו עד כה. עיני העולם כולו נשואות לחפירות הללו ולתגליות הרבות והמשמעותיות שנחשפו עד כה ושממתינות עדיין להיחשף. אנו שמחים שאדם כמו נחשון היווה חלק משמעותי מפרויקט כה חשוב ומיוחד ומאחלים לו הצלחה רבה!Posted by "�עיר דוד- ירושלים הקדומה"� on Monday, November 20, 2017
"Every step on this street brought the pilgrims closer to the Temple," he said.
"Imagine to yourselves the joy, the songs, the prayers, the spiritual journey that these people experience when they know they are just meters away from reaching the gates of the Temple."
The pilgrim road where the ring was discovered has its own special connection to Biblical history: it was built during the reign of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
And the infamous Biblical figure was associated with another recent discovery of an ancient ring. This one, made of copper and inscribed with the phrase "of Pilatus," was actually found decades ago but overlooked until it was recently restored.
Some experts believe the ring, which was discovered at Herod's burial tomb in 1968, belonged to the Pilate who ordered Jesus' crucifixion.
While it's impossible to tell exactly when the ring was made, and some argue the antique is not glamorous enough for a Roman governor, the connection seems too strong to be denied.
"There is no way of proving either theory 100% and everyone can have his own opinion," archaeologist Roi Porat told the Times.
[H/T: Times of Israel]