gold object gold object Experts first thought the object was a ceremonial piece used in ancient rituals ... but they changed their minds. (Photo: Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

Mysterious gold object identified thanks to crowdsourcing

For months, archaeologists were stumped by this unearthed item. But then they posted it online.

Before you read further, take a guess: what do you think this mysterious gold object, recently discovered in Israel, was used for?

Have your guess? OK, read on.

Here are the facts:

  • A maintenance worker discovered it when he noticed something glittering in the grounds of a Jerusalem cemetery six months ago.
  • These burial grounds are an important archaeological site. Remains have been found there dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
  • It weighed 17.6 pounds.
  • A team from the Israel Antiquities Authority took it to a jeweler who said it was coated in 24-carat gold.
  • The team x-rayed it at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and found out it was made of solid metal.

Any more guesses? If you're still confused, you're not alone: The experts at the Israel Antiquities Authority were stumped too.

"To tell you the truth I've never seen anything like this before," Amir Ganor told NBC News. Ganor joked that he thought that "aliens landed from outer space and brought the object."

ancient gold objectThe object has two handles and grooves down the center. (Photo: Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

For months, they couldn't figure it out. Finally, they turned to the public; the team posted a photo of the object to their Facebook page Tuesday, asking for suggestions like an extremely scientific caption contest.

Within hours, hundreds of responses flooded in. One person suggested it was used for inseminating cattle. Another thought it was a tool for rolling dough, or perhaps a piece of machinery.

Finally, an Italian man named Micha Barak solved the mystery: It was an object used to provide energy protection and energy healing, made by a New Age-style German company in not-so-ancient times. That's right: the object was modern.

"The wisdom of the masses has done its part," the authority said Tuesday.

The Israel Antiquities Authority invited Barak to come by to shed some light on the one remaining mystery: who put an energy healing device in a cemetery, and why?

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