An ancient ring with an inlaid amethyst stone was recently discovered during excavations in the city of Yavne, south of Tel Aviv, in Israel. The gem caught the attention of archaeologists because, according to contemporary accounts of its time, one of its uses was to “prevent the drunkenness and the hangover”. As if it were a coincidence, the relic was found in an old wine factory that flourished in the Byzantine period.
An examination of the ring, the weight of which is 5.11 grams showed that the gem is composed mostly of silica, a common material in gemstones.
Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA), the entity that leads the expedition and announced the find in a press release, do not know who the ring may have belonged to. However, they considered that “the person who possessed the ring was wealthy and the use of the jewel indicated his status and wealth”Said Amir Golani, an IAA antique jewelry expert.
“It is possible that the splendid ring belonged to the owner of the magnificent warehouse, a foreman or simply an unfortunate visitor, who dropped and lost his precious ring, until it was finally discovered by us,” said Elie Haddad, co-director of the excavation, a Time of Israel.
The same happened with the exact date of the ring, which is not known with precision because it is an inorganic element. However, the main suspicions pointed to more than 1,400 years ago, since they were found in the layers of the late Byzantine period (15th century) and the first Islamic periods (7th century AD).
The importance of amethyst can be traced back to different stories. On the one hand, the Hebrews mentioned it in the Bible as one of the 12 precious stones that the high priest of the temple was to wear in his ceremonial costume.
However, his relationship with alcohol intoxication could have come from a superstition from the other side of the Mediterranean, exactly from the Greeks. As explained by the Haaretz medium, the ancient Greeks dressed in amethyst and even carved wine glasses with them.
Also, the word amethyst comes from the ancient Greek amethystos, which in the language of the time meant “not intoxicating.” This fact was reinforced by the information that Yavne had the largest winery in the Byzantine world.
“Did the person wearing the ring want to avoid poisoning from drinking too much wine? We will probably never know, ”Haddad said. This year, the same archaeological site provided a 1,600-year-old colorful mosaic and a 1,000-year-old intact chicken egg.