The jug when it was exposed in a field in Yehud, near Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF EYECON PRODUCTIONS/IAA)
A rare and unusual 3,800-year-old jug from the Middle Bronze Age, featuring a human sculpture, was recently unearthed during an excavation in the city of Yehud, near Ben-Gurion Airport, with the assistance of area students.
Gilad Itach, excavation director on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, said on Wednesday the discovery was made on the final day of a mandatory dig before the construction of several residential buildings in the area.
“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 18 cm. high was exposed with the image of a person on top of it,” recalled Itach.
“It seems that the jug, which is typical of the period, was prepared, and afterward the unique sculpture was added, the likes of which have never before [been found]... The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000-year-old sculpture is extremely impressive.”
Itach said the neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture.
“One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand, as if in a state of reflection,” he said.
“It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman.”
In addition to the unique pottery vessel, other vessels and metal items were found, including several daggers, arrowheads, an ax head, sheep bones, and what are likely the bones of a donkey.
“It seems that these objects are funerary offerings that were buried in honor of an important member of the ancient community,” explained Itach.
“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 funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country.”
Efrat Zilber, a supervisor responsible for coordinating the Land of Israel and Archeology matriculation stream in the Education Ministry, cited the excavation as an excellent model for students to learn about a rich history.
“The high school students met experts in a variety of fields who shared their knowledge with them and enriched them, while also enriching their world,” said Zilber.
The students of the Land of Israel and archeology matriculation stream participate in excavations as part of a new training curriculum, offered by the authority and the ministry, which seeks to connect them with the past and help prepare archeologists of the future.
“Students who choose this course of study, as part of their alternative evaluation for high school matriculation, take part in a week of excavation,” said Zilber.
“They experience the variety of roles involved in the excavation, discuss questions regarding research and archeological considerations, and document the excavations in a field diary as part of their research work.”
Ronnie Krisher, a student from Haro’eh religious girls high school in Ramat Gan, said the experience was a revelation.
“Suddenly, I saw many archeologists and important people arriving, who were examining and admiring something that was uncovered in the ground,” she recalled. “They immediately called all of us to look at the amazing statuette, and explained to us that this is an extremely rare discovery, one that is not encountered every day.”
Krisher added: “It is exciting to be part of an excavation whose artifacts will be displayed in a museum.”