Ancient Egyptian amulet bearing Pharaoh’s name discovered in Temple Mount earth
A rare amulet Egyptian amulet over 3,200 years old was discovered in earth discarded from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and was recently deciphered by archaeologists as bearing the name of the ancient Pharaoh Thutmose III.
The amulet was first discovered by a twelve-year-old girl, Neshama Spielman, who came with her family to participate in the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem’s Tzurim Valley National Park.
“While I was sifting, I came across a piece of pottery that was different from others I had seen, and I immediately thought that maybe I had found something special,” said Spielman.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project is conducted under the auspices of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University with the support of the City of David Foundation and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and was initiated in response to the illegal removal of earth from the Temple Mount compound by the Islamic Waqf in 1999 without any archaeological supervision.
“Since the Temple Mount has never been excavated, the ancient artifacts retrieved in the Sifting Project provide valuable and previously inaccessible information. The many categories of finds are among the largest and most varied ever found in Jerusalem,” said Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the project.
Over 170,000 volunteers from Israel and around the world have participated in the Temple Mount Sifting Project since its inception in 2014.
Thutmose III ruled as Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty from 479 to 1425 BCE.
“Thutmose III was one of the most important pharaohs in Egypt’s New Kingdom and is credited with establishing the Egyptian imperial province in Canaan, conducting 17 military campaigns to Canaan and Syria and defeating a coalition of Canaanite kings at the city of Megiddo in 1457 BCE,” Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project said in a statement.
“Thutmose III referred to himself as ‘the one who has subdued a thousand cities,’ and it is known that for more than 300 years, during the Late Bronze Age, Canaan and the city state of Jerusalem were under Egyptian dominion, likely explaining the presence of this amulet in Jerusalem,” he added.
The pendant-shaped amulet measures 21 mm wide, 4 mm thick, and 16mm long, and was meant to be worn around the neck.
The face of the amulet displays Egyptian hieroglyphics bearing the name of the ancient Egyptian ruler, as well as the symbol of an eye and remnants of a cobra hieroglyphic.
The amulet was researched by Israel Antiquities Authority Egyptologist, Baruch Brandl, and will be reconstructed based upon the discovery of an identical amulet discovered in northern Israel in 1978.
“Even though they have been extracted from their archaeological context, most of these artifacts can be identified and dated by comparing them with those found at other sites,” Dvira said.
Other ancient artifacts bearing the name of Thutmose III have previously been discovered in Jerusalem, but this is the first time his name has been discovered on an amulet.
The discovery of the amulet so close to the Jewish celebration of Passover adds special significance to the find.
“A discovery such as this is particularly symbolic at this time of year, with the Passover festival just a few days away, and represents greetings from the ancient past,” said Assaf Avraham, archaeologist and director of the Jerusalem Walls National Park from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The Passover festival, commemorating the Biblical account of the exodus of the ancient Israelites from Egypt, will begin later this week.