Miniature carving of Alexander the Great

Israel National News reports the discover of a rare miniature carving of Alexander the Great. The article by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz says,

Excavations in Tel Dor have turned up a rare and unexpected work of Hellenistic art: a precious stone bearing the miniature carved likeness of Alexander the Great. Archaeologists are calling it an important find, indicating the great skill of the artist.

The Tel Dor dig, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Ayelet Gilboa of Haifa University and Dr. Ilan Sharon of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, has just ended its summer excavation season. For more than 30 years, scientists have been excavating in Tel Dor, identified as the site of the Biblical town of Dor. The town’s location, on Israel’s Mediterranean Sea coast some 30 kilometers south of Haifa, made it an important international port in ancient times.

“Despite the tiny proportions – the length of the gemstone (gemma) is less than a centimeter and its width less than half a centimeter – 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.”

According to the archaeologists involved in the Tel Dor excavations, the discovery of the miniature Alexander gemstone carving in Israel is fairly surprising. The Land of Israel was not, for the Greek Empire, a central or major holding.

The article concludes,

Historically, Alexander himself passed through Dor in 332 BCE, during his voyage to Egypt. It appears that the city fell to him without resistance. Since that time until its conquest by the Hasmonean Jewish King Alexander Yannai around 100 BCE, Dor served as a stronghold of non-Jewish Hellenists in the Land of Israel.

The full article may be read here.

Miniature carving of Alexander from Tel Dor.

Carving of Alexander from Tel Dor.

Dor is mentioned in several Old Testament references including Joshua 17:10-11.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

2 responses to “Miniature carving of Alexander the Great

  1. Pingback: The Tel Dor Excavation Project « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  2. Dear Mr. Jenkins

    The exquisite gemstone of Alexander the great that captured your attention, as seen in you website, is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of one of the largest, long lasting and high profile archaeological projects in Israel. If you care about the archaeology of biblical times (Israelites, Phoenicians and Sea People), the Classical periods, and the cultural heritage of Israel and the Mediterranean; and if you are interested in forging a bond between Israel and the international community – please take a moment to look at the attached file. Like almost cultural projects around the globe, we need your help to endure.

    We would be grateful if you could pass this message to any other interested parties.


    Dr. Ilan Sharon,
    Institute of Archaeology , Hebrew University Jerusalem
    Mt. Scopus , Jerusalem 91905
    Tel. 972-2-2881304

    Dr. Ayelet Gilboa
    Chair, Dept. of Archaeology,
    University of Haifa, Mount Carmel,
    Haifa 31905, Israel
    Tel: 972-4-8240234, 972-4-8240531

    Tel Dor website:
    Tel Dor has also a facebook wall. You are welcome to visit us

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