Ankle bracelets or ornamental rings worn on the legs above the ankles were in common use in the ancient Middle East. They were made of such materials as brass, gold, silver, iron, glass and ivory. On Egyptian monuments persons of both sexes are depicted as wearing them, and in Egypt anklets and bracelets were frequently made as matching ensembles. Many anklets have been found by archaeologists throughout Palestine, among them bronze anklets varying in diameter from two and a half to four and a half inches (c. 6.4 to 11.4 centimeters). Excavations at Beth-shemesh have yielded a pair of iron anklets that may have been made in David’s day.
Heavy anklets might make a ringing sound as they knocked together while the wearer walked along. However, at times pebbles were placed in hollow bangles or anklets in order to produce a sound, and Arabian girls of more recent times have also occasionally worn anklets with small bells attached to them. Too, ankle chainlets were sometimes fastened to the anklets worn by a woman, thus tying these ornaments together. The chainlets would make tinkling sounds as the wearer walked and, of course, they and the anklets themselves would attract attention. Ankle chainlets or step chains would also restrict or shorten the woman’s step, so that she would walk with tripping steps and what might be considered a graceful or genteel feminine gait.
“Ankle chainlets” were among pieces of jewelry the Israelites took from the Midianites as war booty and contributed as “Jehovah’s offering.” (Num. 31:50, 51) The haughty “daughters of Zion” of later times are described as women who “go walking with tripping steps, and with their feet they make a tinkling sound,” or “on their feet they shake bangles.” Through Isaiah, Jehovah warned them that he would take away their ornamental articles and “the beauty of the bangles,” or anklets, as well as their “step chains.” (Isa. 3:16, 18, 20) The Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. surely made inroads into the lives of these women, resulting in the loss of their many ornaments and their freedom.—See ORNAMENTS.