By: Ilana Messika/TPS
A fragment of a large limestone statue depicting an Egyptian official who lived approximately 3,900 years ago during the Middle Kingdom era was discovered this year and presented on Monday at Tel Hazor near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
The lower part of the statue was the only segment that survived. The fragment measures 45 by 50 centimeters and depicts the crouching feet of what is assumed to be a real-size male figure seated on a square base that is engraved with a few lines of Egyptian hieroglyphic text. The identity of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue is not yet entirely clear.
“The statue came to Hazor from Egypt and was probably meant as a gift for the king of Hazor who was the king of the largest and most important Canaanite city in the Southern Levant at the time,” Shlomit Bechar, co-director of the excavation, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
Most of the text inscribed on the statue’s base praises its owner who most probably resided in the ancient Egyptian region of Memphis. The text also included a customary Egyptian funerary formula that promised an eternal supply of offerings for the spirit of the statue’s owner.
The statue is one of only two monumental Egyptian statues found so far this millennium in the Levant area. Both discoveries were made in the very same building, which was likely the administrative palace of the ruler of the city of Hazor.
“Hazor did not exist at the time the statue was made and it can thus be said for certain that it arrived at Hazor as a gift at a later time,” added Bechar, a doctoral student at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been excavating at Hazor for a decade.
Tel Hazor is the largest biblical archaeological mound in the Land of Israel and covers an area of approximately 720,000 square meters. The site is located in the Hula Valley, north of the Sea of Galilee and Tiberias.
Excavations at the site began in the 1950s under the direction of renowned biblical archaeologist Yigal Yadin. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor renewed excavations at Tel Hazor in 1990 and he claims that Hazor is the most important archaeological site from the biblical period.
The excavation is being conducted on behalf of the Selz Foundation, which was created as a cooperative program between Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society.
Many findings were discovered during almost 30 years of excavations at Hazor. These include fragments of 18 different Egyptian statues dedicated to Egyptian kings and officials, including two sphinxes. Most of the statues were found in layers dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries B.C.E.) at the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt.
Michael Bachner contributed to this article.