Israel National News reports that excavations in Tel Dor, an ancient port city along Israel’s coast, have produced a gemstone with a very small, very detailed portrait of Alexander of Macedon, a.k.a. Alexander the Great. The current excavations are supervised by Dr. Ayelet Gilboa and Dr. Ilan Sharon.
Archaeologists are calling it an important find, indicating the great skill of the artist.
…Despite the tiny proportions – the length of the gemstone is less than a centimeter [< .4 inches] and its width less than half a centimeter [< .2 inches] – the artist was able to carve the image of Alexander of Macedon with all of his features,” Dr. Gilboa said. “The king appears as young and energetic, with a sharp chin and straight nose, and with long, curly hair held in a crown.
Alexander passed through Palestine, including the city of Dor, on his way to Egypt in 332 B.C. This was the beginning the Hellenistic Period, when Greeks controlled the land. Khirbet Qeiyafa was resettled during this period for what appears to have been the first time since the reigns of David or Solomon, 600 or more years earlier.
The article has a photo of the carved portrait, but it does not show the entire gemstone. Perhaps a more complete photo will be released soon.
It’s a shame that the identity of the artist is lost to history. We identify the talent of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rafael, Manet, Monet, and so many others from more recent centuries. The names of most ancient artists, even those with great talent, are completely unknown to us.