Ancient Egyptian scarab discovered during middle school field trip in Israel

Israel Archaeology
A general view of a 1,200-year-old rural estate, discovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority during expansion of the town of Rahat, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. Located in Israel’s south near the Bedouin town of Rahat, the building dates back back to the early Islamic period in the 8th or 9th centuries. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) Tsafrir Abayov/AP

Ancient Egyptian scarab discovered during middle school field trip in Israel

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An ancient Egyptian scarab was discovered during a field trip to Azor, located a few miles outside of Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed Wednesday.

The scarab, which depicts an Egyptian pharaoh in a scene that represents the bestowal of legitimacy to a ruler, is believed to date back to the Bronze Age around 3,000 years ago, according to experts.

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“This scene basically reflects the geopolitical reality that prevailed in the land of Canaan during the Late Bronze Age, when the local Canaanite rulers lived (and sometimes rebelled) under Egyptian political and cultural hegemony,” IAA Bronze Age expert Dr. Amir Golani told the Jerusalem Post. “Therefore, it is very possible that the seal is indeed from the Late Bronze Age when the local Canaanites were ruled by the Egyptian Empire.”

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The discovery was made during a tour with middle school students and was discovered by the head tour guide from the IAA’s educational center.

“We were wandering around when I saw something that looked like a small toy on the ground,” Gilad Stern, the tour guide, said. “An inner voice said to me: ‘Pick it up and turn it over.’ I was astonished: it was a scarab with a clearly incised scene, the dream of every amateur archaeologist. The pupils were really excited.”

The scarab showed a man with an elongated head standing up, which experts believe represented the crown of an Egyptian pharaoh. Although scarabs are specifically Egyptian, multiple scarabs have been discovered in Israel and were likely dropped by important authorities or purposely buried with other objects.

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“The scarab was used as a seal and was a symbol of power and status,” IAA Bronze Age expert Dr. Amir Golani said. “It may have been placed on a necklace or a ring [and] is made of faience, a silicate material coated with a bluish-green glaze. It may have dropped from the hands of an important figure of authority who passed through the area, or it may have been deliberately buried in the ground along with other objects — and after thousands of years, it came to the surface. It’s difficult to determine the exact original context.”

Scarabs are shaped like dung beetles and are associated with life, death, and rebirth. Other ancient Egyptian discoveries were made in Israel earlier this year, including an ancient burial cave complete with ceramic and metal artifacts. The grave was robbed the same night the ceramics were discovered, but authorities have said not much was taken.

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