Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rare Find in Jerusalem Reflects Ancient Connections with Egypt

Discovery of a rare ancient Egyptian scarab during excavations in Jerusalem provides a glimpse into the Late Bronze Age city.

For archaeologists and students of archaeology, hearing the name "Jerusalem" conjures up images of ancient artifacts that can be found in few other places in the world. But recent archaeological excavations there have uncovered something that has not been commonly found.
Directed by Israeli archaeologists Eli Shukron and Joe Uziel under the sponsorship of the Israel Antiquities Authority, excavations have recovered an ancient Egyptian scarab dated to the 13th century B.C.E. (the Late Bronze Age). Found within the City of David National Park, which is situated within the most ancient part of Jerusalem, the scarab is attributed to Egypt's 19th Dynasty, a period of Egyptian hegemony over the city that was actually a Jebusite settlement at the time. The Jebusites were a tribe of Canaanites that built and developed Jerusalem before its conquest by King David during the 10th century, according to the Biblical account.  
Detail view of the scarab. Photo credit Vladimir Neihin
"This is the first time we've found a scarab of this kind in the City of David," said Shukron. "The seal is from the late Bronze period, during which time the land of Israel was under Egyptian rule. It's exciting and interesting to have discovered this unique artifact, and it gives us a glimpse into Jerusalem during that era." 
A scarab is a small, usually oval-shaped Egyptian gem-like amulet or miniature seal. The scarab found during these excavations served as a seal and was used to stamp documents. A centimeter and a half in length and made of soft gray stone, It bears the name, in Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, of the sun god Amon-Ra, one of Egypt's most important deities. It also bears the image of a duck, interpreted to be one of the sun god's symbols. 
The scarab is dated to a time that some scholars suggest corresponds to the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. The 13th century was also a time when Egypt ruled or controlled most of the (present-day Israel, Gaza, and West Bank) land that was occupied by the ancient Canaanites. 
The find was reported in an April 6, 2012 article published in the news venue, Israel Hayom.

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