The discovery of a sculpted head that dates back to 3,000 years is a mystery that many scholars try to solve: whose face is it?
The sculpture is on 5 centimeters (2 inches) and is a very rare form of art that would have come from the 9th century B.C., a period that had biblical kings. This is the first discovery of its kind, as the sculpture is in pristine condition, and only a little bit of its beard is missing.
Scientists believe it’s the representation of a king since it has a golden crown, but they don’t know which king it symbolized and what kingdom he would have ruled.
Near the town of Metula, archaeologists found the little figurine during their excavations last year at the site Abel Beth Maacah. In the 19th century, archaeologists found the site on which the village called Abil al-Qamh was situated. In the Book of Kings, there was a city with the same name mentioned.
The Sculpture is of “Exquisite Quality”
According to the book, there is mention of the Aramean King Ben Hadad who attacked the city Abel Beth Maacah while he was campaigning against the Israelite kingdom.
Hebrew University archaeologist Naama Yahalom-Mack and California’s Azusa Pacific University led the dig at the site beginning with 2013. After discovering the figurine, it was put on display.
Eran Arie is the Israel Museum’s curator of Iron Age and Persian archaeology. He explains why this discovery is one of a kind:
“In the Iron Age, if there’s any figurative art, and there largely isn’t, it’s of very low quality. And this is of exquisite quality.”
The sculpture is made of faience, popular in jewelry or small human/animal figurines from ancient Egypt and the Near East. The material looks like glass.
It Looks Like a Semitic King
Yahalom-Mack describes the figurine:
“The color of the face is greenish because of this copper tint that we have in the silicate paste.” He also believes that this is a Near Eastern monarch is because of the “very interesting hairdo.”
“The guy kind of represents the generic way Semitic people are described,” she concluded.
Carbon-14 dating cannot show more information on when the statue was created, so the experts have placed it somewhere in the 9th century B.C. Yahalom-Mack said it could be one of the following kings, who all appear in the biblical narrative: Ben Hadad or Hazael of Damascus, Ahab or Jehu of Israel, or Ithobaal of Tyre:
“We’re only guessing here, it’s like a game. It’s like a hello from the past, but we don’t know anything else about it.”
This month, the team at the Hebrew University will start digging where they found the sculpture, looking for more long-lost artifacts that could shed some light on this mystery.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere