Gazan Farmer Finds Ancient Canaanite Statue as Archeologists Uncover Intact Samaritan Lamp
23:56 GMT 04.05.2022 (Updated: 20:18 GMT 19.10.2022)
Several recent archeological finds have been uncovered in the Levant dating to Biblical times, including an ancient icon statue and an oil lamp that is nearly intact.
Gaza's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced last week that a farmer in southern Gaza had uncovered a 4,500-year-old statue of a pre-Jewish goddess.
“The statue dates back 4,500 years and belongs to the Canaanite goddess Anat, who is the goddess of love, beauty and war, according to Canaanite mythology. The statue is currently exhibited in the Pasha Palace Museum in Gaza,” Jamal Abu Rida, director of antiquities at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor.
The statue is nine inches tall and made of limestone, showing the head of Anat wearing a crown of snakes. She is speculated to have been equated with Antu in the ancient Akkadian pantheon and with the Greek Athena.
Gaza: The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza announces the discovery of a Canaanite statue inside a land in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, dating back to 2500 BC. pic.twitter.com/o3Zsw6L06F— Lebanese News and Updates (@LebUpdate) April 25, 2022
The area of Gaza has been recorded in history since at least 3,300 BCE, when an Egyptian fortress was built just south of present-day Gaza City, called Tell As-Sakan. The fort served as a major trade hub with the Canaanite people of the region, who spoke a Semitic language similar to Hebrew; the fort’s role later shifted to Gaza, which became legendary as a metropolitan port city at the western end of the Silk Road. Although the Torah refers to Canaanites as among the peoples the Israelites were to exterminate, scholars believe their cultures were very similar and that Canaanite culture persisted into the Hellenistic Greek period.
“The numerous archaeological discoveries in the Gaza Strip, the latest of which was the discovery of the Canaanite statue, show the Palestinian people’s history on their land and civilizations dating back to thousands of years,” Ayoub Abu al-Aish, a resident of Gaza City, told Al-Monitor.
“Gaza still holds more secrets on its lands, which have witnessed many historical eras such as the Pharaonic, Roman, Byzantine and Assyrian, among others,” he added.
Samaritan Oil Lamp
Separately, archeologists in the West Bank uncovered a nearly-intact clay oil lamp on Mount Gerizim, a mountain south of Nablus that is believed by the Samaritans to be the most sacred spot on Earth.
The lamp was found while conservation workers were clearing the area around a stone bath used by ancient Samaritans that is similar to a Jewish mikveh.
The archaeological complex on Mount Gerizim, located outside of Nablus, was excavated in the 1990s under the leadership of archaeologist Dr. Yitzhak Magen.https://t.co/D8vvHWZOVN— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) May 2, 2022
“It is great to find something even after all those years of excavation,” Mount Gerizim National Park director Netanel Elimelech told the Jerusalem Post. “We found a lot of clay sherds lying around, but to find something complete with signs of its use is pretty nice. You can still see the black marks of burning from when the lamp was used. It throws you back (in time.)”
While fewer than 1,000 Samaritans exist today, their people once lived across what is now the West Bank, northern Israel, and southern Lebanon. A Semitic-speaking people very closely related to the ancient Israelites, the Samaritans split from them when the leaders of the Kingdom of Judea were deported to Babylon in the 6th century BCE. By the time they returned under Persian patronage several decades later, the Samaritan and Jewish religions had become so separated that they were irreconcilable. Among their differences is the belief that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, was the site where God wanted his temple to be built.
The archeological site where the lamp was found dates to the Persian-Hellenistic period and includes a town surrounding a temple, which included several houses and an olive oil press, which would have been vital to its economic prosperity.