|13 December 2016
Bronze Age 'Thinker' figurine discovered in Israel
Archaeologists have unearthed an 18-centimetre tall 3,800-year-old Middle Bronze Age ceramic statue of a figure sitting on top of the remains of a pot that was shattered sometime after it was buried.
Gilad Itach, the archaeologist heading the dig near Tel Aviv, said they found the figurine along with an assortment of other items on the last day of excavations, just before construction of a building commenced on site.
Describing the find, Itach says: "It seems they first prepared a pot characteristic of the period, and afterwards they added the unique statue, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research. The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000-year-old sculpture is extremely impressive. The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture."
"One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection," Itach adds. "It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman."
Archaeologists also found other vessels, as well as daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones, and what may be the bones of an ass. Itach suggests the items were funerary objects for a prominent member of the Canaanite community.
"It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world," Itach explains. "To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country."
In addition to the Bronze Age finds, researchers discovered 6,000-year-old Copper Age remains, including a circular stone feature that may have served as an ancient well, and fragments of a ceramic butter churn.
Earlier this year, not far from the where the statue was found, archaeologists uncovered a Middle Bronze Age necropolis consisting of 94 pit graves containing men, women, and children along with funerary offerings including pots, daggers and pins, scarabs, animal bones and jewellery. The site continued to be used as a burial ground for centuries.
Edited from The Times of Israel, DW.com (23 November 2016)
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