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Ancient Glass Bracelet Decorated with Menorahs Found in Israel

Image: Ancient glass fragment
This glass fragment, embossed with two menorahs, was discovered by archaeologists in Israel on the second night of Hanukkah. Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists in Israel recently unearthed a glass bracelet decorated with a timely design. The ancient piece of jewelry is engraved with a seven-branched candelabrum, or menorah — the symbol of the Hanukkah holiday.

The bracelet was discovered in Mount Carmel National Park, which researchers think was a large settlement during the late Roman or early Byzantine period. Archaeologists have been working in the park, a declared antiquities site, before the excavation of a new water reservoir in the area.

During a routine dig last Thursday (Dec. 18), a team of excavators uncovered a box containing hundreds of glass fragments that had been thrown into a refuse pit. Among the old pieces of glass was a small fragment of decorated glass from an ancient bracelet. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds]

"After cleaning, we were excited to discover that the bracelet, which is made of turquoise colored glass, is decorated with symbols of the seven-branched menorah — the same menorah which according to tradition was kept alight in the temple for eight days by means of a single cruse of oil," Limor Talmi and Dan Krizner, excavation directors for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

The bracelet was likely stamped with the menorah symbols when it was still hot, according to the excavation directors. The single fragment features two menorahs, each with the traditional seven branches, but with one menorah also depicting a single flame above each branch.

Glass bracelets embossed with the menorah symbol are not an unusual find in the region, according to Yael Gorin-Rosen, head of the ancient glass department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who said that such symbols have been found on jewelry in Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Other common symbols found on glass jewelry from this period (at the end of the fourth century or beginning of the fifth century A.D.) include lions and other animals, as well as images of gods, he said.

— Elizabeth Palermo, Live Science

This is a condensed version of a report from Live Science. Read the full report. Follow Elizabeth Palermo @techEpalermo. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+.