Dwarf god Bes was laughing in Iron Age Beit Shemesh, exhibition shows

A rescue dig uncovered a wealth of archaeological findings from the First Temple Period, leading historians to reconsider accepted narratives.

March 24, 2019 16:32
1 minute read.
Dwarf god Bes was laughing in Iron Age Beit Shemesh, exhibition shows

A finding from theTel Beit Shemesh digs . (photo credit: BIBLE LANDS MUSEUM)


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New findings have overturned existing notions regarding the abandonment of ancient Beit Shemesh once the First Temple was destroyed and are part of a new exhibit about the tensions between conservation and new construction projects. 

A new exhibit, called "Highway through History," at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem explores the site's findings and public debate about the tension between modernity and conserving archaeological findings. The uncovering of new Iron Age artifacts in Beit Shemesh in the middle of a new highway construction have prompted changes in the project so as not to damage the ancient site.

A stone figurine of the god Bes was among the important finds at a rescue excavation as the new Route 38 is being built.

After King Sennachrib of Assyria destroyed the ancient city of Beit Shemesh in 701 BCE, many scholars thought the city was deserted in the following generations. However, during the rescue excavation, jars and tools related to olive oil production were found at the site which may indicate that activity returned to Beit Shemesh earlier than previously thought. The stone dwarf Bes figurine also indicates the potential presence of Egyptian influence at the site. 

Bes, originally a Nubian deity imported and incorporated into the religious life of ancient Egypt, was also recently discovered in the City of David, where a Persian Bes vessel was recently found. 

A popular god, figurines of Bes have been found in locations even as far as Cyprus.  

NIS 70 million were poured into the construction of the new Route 38, but the new findings promoted changes in the road as to not to damage the site. 


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