Rings and bracelets recovered from the Temple Mount Photo TM Sifting Project LOGOWhat was life like in Jerusalem one thousand years ago? Two thousand years ago? How did people do life? What did they look like? The ongoing Temple Mount Sifting Project, has uncovered thousands of clues. Among them are a wide variety of glass bracelets and finger rings worn by adults and children too. Life then, like now, included bling and color.


The Temple Mount Sifting Project was conceived in the late 1990s after illegal renovations on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City dumped 9,000 tons of dirt mixed with artifacts. Archaeologists from Israel's Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira, recovered the material.

In 2004, the Temple Mount Sifting Project was ready to begin sifting. Among the countless and priceless artifacts it has recovered are thousands of pieces of glass jewelry.

So far, 1,800 bracelet fragments and approximately 150 ring pieces have been catalogued. Many more have been identified but have not yet made it into the database.

Among these are circular glass “bangle” bracelets that were common in Israel from late Roman times to the present. While most of the fragments are from the Islamic Period, some are consistent with dark monochrome bracelets that date to the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods.

The range of bracelet diameters indicates that these inexpensive ornaments were popular among children as well as adults. Glass finger rings, some matching the glass bracelet styles were not as varied or as popular as the bracelets.

Glass Bracelets

Glass bracelets first appeared in Egypt in the 2nd millennium BCE. They became more popular in Europe during the last centuries of the first millennium BCE, but did not become common in the Levant until the 3rd century CE.

They were very popular during the Islamic periods when brightly colored bracelets replaced the earlier mostly dark-colored ones. During the later Islamic periods Tyrus, Hebron, Aleppo, Acre, Sidon, Raqqa, Cairo, Alexandria and Damascus were famous glass production centers, and Hebron was especially famous for its glass bracelets from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Bracelets from Hebron were still made there and sold in Jerusalem into the 20th century.

Glass Finger Rings

Glass rings began to appear in Israel in the late Roman period, about the same time as glass bracelets. Their types were not as varied as the bracelets, nor were they as popular, but the sizes indicate that many were worn by children.

The rings are often monochrome, but the rings of the Islamic era are multicolored, with added colored patches and trails creating rings that matched bracelet types. One popular type found on the Temple Mount was a simple monochrome band decorated with an added contrasting glass “gem” at the seam. Another was monochrome with a flattened rhomboidal or oval bezel. Glass rings were produced in Hebron during most periods and continuing into the 19th century.


This report is a re-written version of the blog report, "Bejeweled," published by the blog for The Temple Mount Sifting Project at

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