A 7-year-old boy uncovered a 3,400-year-old figurine during a hiking trip to the Beit She’an Valley in northern Israel.
Uri Grinhot was climbing in the area with his friends and parents when he stumbled across the statue at the Tel Rehov archaeological site, apparently after accidentally kicking it as lay in the ground. The rare clay figurine is of a naked woman and was most probably prepared by pressing the soft clay material into a mold.
The boy and his family handed the figurine over to the Israel Antiquities Authority, which awarded him a certificate for good citizenship, the Walla news website reported Thursday.
“Uri came home with the impressive statuette, and we were extremely excited,” said his mother Moriah. “We explained to him that it was an antique and that the Antiquities Authority looks after such findings for the general public.”
Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and head of archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov, examined the statue, saying that it is “typical of Canaanite culture from the 15th to 13th centuries BCE.”
He said: “Some researchers believe that the figure depicted here is a flesh and blood woman, while others see it as Astarte, goddess of fertility, known from Canaanite and the Bible. There is a high probability that when the term ‘idol’ is mentioned in the Bible, it in fact refers to figurines such as this.”
IAA officials visited Uri at his school in Sde Eliyahu to present him with his award and to discuss the statue he had found, Channel 2 television said.
“Archaeologists came into the classroom during a Torah class, just as we had learned that [Biblical matriarch] Rachel had stolen the idols of her father Lavan,” teacher Esther Ladelle told the TV station.