Boy finds 3,400-year-old fertility goddess figure while hiking

A 3,400 figurine was recently unearthed by 7-year-old Ori Greenhut from Tel Teomim in the Beit Shean Valley.

At the beginning of the week, Ori went out hiking with friends, accompanied by the father of one of the boys. While climbing the Tel Rehov archeological site, Ori dislodged a rock. When he looked down, he saw an image of a woman covered in dirt. Ori brushed the earth off the object and discovered the clay figurine.

Ori’s mother, Moriya, said that she explained to her son that “this was an ancient object and that the Israel Antiquities Authority takes care of all discoveries [like this one] for the sake of the general public.”

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The family handed the figurine over the IAA, which sent archeologists to the Shaked Elementary School at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, where Ori is a pupil. The IAA officials presented the young Indiana Jones with a commendation for his good citizenship and told the children what they knew about the statuette.

“The archeologists came into the classroom during a Bible lesson, just as we were learning that Rachel stole her father Laban’s idols. I explained that the idols were figurines that were used in pagan worship. Suddenly, I realized that we had one of those same statuettes here in the classroom,” teacher Esther Ledell said.

The clay figurine Ori discovered features a nude woman and was crafted by pressing soft clay into a mold.

Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus of archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and head of the archeological excavations at Tel Rehov, said that the figurine was ” typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th-13th centuries BCE.”

According to Mazar, “Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh and blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible. It is highly likely that the term ‘trafim’ [idols] mentioned in the Bible indeed refers to figurines of this kind.”

“Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs,” Mazar added.

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