The vessel was discovered together with daggers, an axe head and arrowheads that were apparently buried as funerary offerings for one of the respected members of the ancient settlement. (copyright Eyecon Productions, courtesy IAA)

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands. – Pslam 143:5 (ESV)

A group of high school students who are enrolled in a program called “The Land of Israel and Archaeology matriculation stream” witnessed an amazing discovery in October as an ancient figurine sitting on top of a pottery jug was revealed during the last day of an excavation. The program aims to expose young people to the living history and field of archaeology. Efrat Zilber, supervisor responsible for coordinating the archaeology program within the Ministry of Education, explained that “the archaeological excavations provide an opportunity for an intensive and direct experience that connects the pupils with our country’s past. An experiential learning experience involving research methods employed in archaeology takes place while revealing the artifacts. The pupils meet experts in a variety of fields who share their knowledge with them, enrich the pupils while also enriching their world”.

The area of the excavation took place prior to the construction of new residential buildings. The discovery of this piece is unlike anything else recovered from this time period. The bronze-era piece is about 3,800 years old using conventional dating. This would place it in the time of Isaac. However, if the timeline proposals seen in Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus are valid, this would place the earthenware vessel in the time when the Israelites were in Egypt.

According to Gilad Itach, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “It literally happened on the last day of the excavation when right in front of our eyes and those of the excited students an unusual ceramic vessel c. 18cm (7 inches) high was exposed that bears the image of a person.”

Itach said about the piece that, “The level of precision and attention to detail…is extremely impressive.” The pensive figure is sitting with his head resting on his hand. Some have said that the pose bears a likeness to the early 20th century piece, “The Thinker”, sculpted by French artist Auguste Rodin.

The jug, which was broken when it was found, being restored in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. (Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy IAA)

The Thinker (1902), a bronze and marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) displayed in Musée Rodin, Paris (Public Domain).

When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; Psalm 119:59 (ESV)

With the vessel other items such as; daggers, arrowheads, an axe head and sheep bones were also found. According to Itach, “It seems that these objects are funerary offerings that were buried in honor of an important member of the ancient community. It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world. To the best of my knowledge such a rich assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country.”

As reported on Heritage Daily, “a variety of evidence regarding the kind of life that existed… was exposed.” Some of the items found were thousands of fragments of pottery vessels, hundreds of flint and basalt implements, animal bones, and a churn which is a unique vessel that was widely used in the Chalcolithic period for making butter.

As stated in an article on Deutsche Welle, “Israel has been the site of many modern archaeological discoveries as it served as a geographical bridge between the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. The country also contains multiple holy cities for the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions.”