A trove of jewelry – rings, bracelets, earrings and hairpins – believed to be about 900 years old, have been discovered in the kitchen of a Crusader fortress tower in Modiin.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Modiin-Maccabim-Reut Municipality, is conducting a cultural-educational archaeological excavation at Givat Tittora. Every day, a class of schoolchildren comes to work at the archaeological site alongside pensioners and volunteers who live in the town. The excavation’s aim is both educational and social: To provide residents of the town, of all ages, with the opportunity to uncover their town’s cultural heritage directly and without mediation.
The fortress was situated on a strategic hill – on the main ascent route from the coastal plain to Yerushalayim – and is surrounded by fertile valleys that were used as farmland and were able to support the hill’s inhabitants for generations.
According to Avraham Tendler, excavation director for the IAA, “The students and volunteers from Modiin have exposed the inner courtyard of the Crusader fortress. Here, the fortress’s occupants cooked and baked for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, some 900 years ago. Ancient clay ovens (tabuns), cooking pots, jars, serving dishes, and a table were discovered in the ancient kitchen, as well as numerous remains of food such as olive pits, pulses, charred grape pips, and animal bones. It seems that the cooks of the time were not sufficiently careful with the jewelry they wore while cooking and baking, since numerous pieces of jewelry have been found in the excavation, some made of bronze and silver.”
Most of the jewelry has been found by volunteer archaeologist Mati Yohananoff, who is a regular participant in the excavation. “Throughout the entire site, we have found many metal objects including coins, rings, bracelets and cosmetic tools,” he said. “These finds indicate the kind of activity traditionally associated with women’s domestic work.”
The Municipality is working on establishing an urban nature park on the hill, which will make the site more accessible to the public. It hopes that the project will continue for many years and enable local residents to carry on peeling away the tell’s ancient layers, exploring its treasures, and being connected to them in an exciting, hands-on way.