Remains of houses and shops from the Early Islamic period were exposed in Ramla during excavations that were conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority by Alexander Onn. Numerous finds were discovered in the shops, among them a juglet containing gold coins (dinars) dating to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (8th-11th centuries CE), bronze weights and a balance scale that belonged to the shops, and a hoard of jewelry that includes three gold and six silver bracelets. The jewelry dates to the Fatimid period (11th century CE) and reflects the richness and the splendor that characterizes the silver and gold jewelry of that period. These finds join the wealth of other discoveries from the city of the 10th and 11th centuries CE from which many pottery vessels, glass finds and metal objects were recovered.
The bracelets vary in shape and in the techniques with which they were made. The most magnificent of them is a gold bracelet adorned at either end with splendid floral decorations and in its center with a two word Arabic inscription meaning “I wish you a complete blessing”. This bracelet is intact and in excellent condition. Two other gold bracelets are decorated near their ends with meticulously crafted meandering tendrils that divide further along into strips across the bracelet. Another interesting item is a silver hoop with a box for an amulet that is suspended from it. The box is decorated with floral pattern strips and written sections of verses from the Koran praising the Lord and his oneness. The two largest items are silver leg bracelets and weighing c. 170 grams each. Each of the bracelets is made of two cylindrical pieces connected by a nail. Two other silver bracelets are made of thin silver sheets. They are hollow and each bracelet weighs c. 35 grams. The ends of the bracelets are embellished with a luxurious scale-like pattern and decorative meandering tendrils, and in their center is also the inscription “I wish you a complete blessing”.
Ayala Lester, curator of the Islamic period at the Antiquities Authority, says that silver bracelets such as these were also found in IAA excavations in the vicinity of the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem, but this type of gold bracelet is so far only known to us from museum collections. “This is the first time that bracelets made of gold were found in a proper archaeological excavation”, she says. The bracelets were treated and cleaned in the metallurgical laboratories of the Antiquities Authority.
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