Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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(Courtesy Sarah Stroup)

There was some beginner's luck this field season at the Hellenistic port of Tel Dor, 19 miles south of Haifa, Israel. On her first dig, Megan Webb, a 28-year-old potter from Philadelphia, was cleaning an area of a large public building with her trowel when this tiny gemstone etched with Alexander the Great's portrait, emerged. Less than half an inch long, it might once have been mounted on a signet ring.

"It is one of perhaps 20 to 30 gemstones--with identifiable portraits of Alexander--that exist in the world," says University of Washington archaeologist Sarah Stroup, director of the Tel Dor field school. "And it's one of the first discovered in a controlled excavation. Many such stones ended up in museums via the black market."