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Hiker finds 3,500-year-old Egyptian seal in Israel

During an excursion with his children in the Horns of Hattin National Park in the Lower Galilee, Amit Haklai, a local resident, picked up a tiny white object from among the black basalt stones which caught his eye. Amit noticed that the object is carved in the shape of a beetle and has designs engraved on it, and he immediately recognized that it is an ancient Egyptian seal. He quickly called the Israel Antiquities Authority and turned the seal over to them. In return, he only asked to know what was engraved on the seal, and what can be learned about the site from it.

Hiker finds 3,500-year-old Egyptian seal in Israel
Egyptian scarab discovered in the Horns of Hattin National Park 
[Credit: Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority]
The seal was identified by Dr. Daphna Ben-Tor, curator of ancient Egyptian culture at the Israel Museum, as a scarab, that is an amulet, from the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt. According to Dr. Ben-Tor, "The scarab portrays the pharaoh Thutmose III seated on a throne and in front of him is a cartouche - an oval enclosing symbols that represent his name written in hieroglyphics. Thutmose ruled for many years during the fifteenth century BCE, during which Egypt established a series of administrative-governmental centers in Canaan. It was here that he conducted numerous military campaigns, the most famous of which was the Battle of Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley - a victory that is commemorated in the enormous reliefs on the walls of the Karnak temple in Egypt."

"Scarabs", says Dr. Ben-Tor, "were carved in the shape of a dung beetle - a creature of cosmological significance in ancient Egypt. Numerous scarabs have been found in archaeological excavations in Israel, and together with other artifacts of Egyptian origin, they are a testimony to the cultural, economic and political influence of Egypt in Canaan in the Late Bronze Age."

The Horns of Hattin is an extinct volcano with two peaks that resemble horns, hence the name. The site is located on the Gospel Trail, a modular walking trail from Nazareth to Capernaum that follows the trail Jesus may have walked. The site is famous because of the Battle of Hattin, which was waged there in 1187 between Saladin, ruler of the Ayyubid dynasty of Damascus, and the armies of the Christian Franks whom he defeated and thus brought to an end the first Crusader kingdom. Many years prior to this, in the Late Bronze Age, a citadel stood on the mountain that was probably destroyed in the thirteenth century CE.

According to archaeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "Even though the scarab was found on the surface rather than in an archaeological excavation, it seems to be associated with the period when the citadel existed."

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [February 04, 2016]

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