Makeup that lasts 2,500 years found near Dead Sea

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

jerusalem (ap) | Israeli archaeologists excavating caves near the Dead Sea have discovered a rare find — 2,500-year-old women’s fashion accessories.

The hoard of jewelry, a makeup kit and a small mirror apparently belonged to Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon in the sixth century BCE, according to Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

“This find is very rare. Both for the richness of the find and for that period, it is almost unheard of,’ Tsuk said Friday, Feb. 20.

Archaeologists using metal detectors found a necklace made of 130 beads of semiprecious stones and gold, a scarab, an agate medallion of Babylonian origin and a silver pendant with an engraved crescent moon and pomegranates all hidden beneath a stone-like accumulation of sediment kicked up by a nearby spring.

They also discovered what appears to be a makeup kit containing an alabaster bowl for powders, a stick to apply the makeup and a bronze mirror.

There was also a pagan stamp showing a Babylonian priest bowing to the moon.

“These finds confirm the [biblical] accounts of Jews returning from exile in Babylon,’ Tsuk said.

When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Kingdom of Judah in 597 BCE he took many Jews into exile with him. These Jews and their descendants were later allowed to return by the Persian monarch Cyrus in 538 BCE. Tsuk said the find shows there was a wealthy and flourishing community of returnees living in the area at the time. “These are not the belongings of a simple person,’ he said.

The find was made by a joint team from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. The team has been excavating caves near the Dead Sea for the last three years.