Girl, 12, finds ancient Egyptian amulet at Jerusalem dig
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Girl, 12, finds ancient Egyptian amulet at Jerusalem dig

Pendant dating to 13th century BCE bears name of conquering Pharaoh Thutmose III

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

This image released by the Ir David Foundation - City of David on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 shows Neshama Spielman with an ancient Egyptian amulet dating back more than 3,200 years to the days of the Pharaohs discovered by the 12-year-old Israeli girl. Spielman and her family took part in the Temple Mount Sifting Project, an initiative to sort through earth discarded from the area of the biblical temples in Jerusalem. (Adina Graham, Ir David Foundation - City of David via AP)
This image released by the Ir David Foundation - City of David on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 shows Neshama Spielman with an ancient Egyptian amulet dating back more than 3,200 years to the days of the Pharaohs discovered by the 12-year-old Israeli girl. Spielman and her family took part in the Temple Mount Sifting Project, an initiative to sort through earth discarded from the area of the biblical temples in Jerusalem. (Adina Graham, Ir David Foundation - City of David via AP)

An ancient Egyptian amulet was uncovered in Jerusalem by a young girl taking part in a family dig in the capital.

The amulet has been dated to 3,200 years ago and bears the name of Pharaoh Thutmose III, a prominent figure from the Eighteenth Dynasty who reigned from 1479 BCE to 1425 BCE, the City of David organization said on Tuesday.

Neshama Spielman, from Jerusalem, found the artifact four years ago at a dig organized by the City of David and the Temple Mount Sifting Project, which works to examine tons of dirt removed without archaeological supervision from the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf. Details of the find and its identification, however, have only now been revealed. Spielman, who is aged 12, was just 8 when she made the find.

The piece was taken away for laboratory testing, and the Spielman family only received a phone call this month telling them the amulet had been identified.

Spielman was sifting through dirt at the Emek Tzurim national park on the slopes of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem when she
noticed the small rectangular object.

Just 21 millimeters long, 16 millimeters high, and 4 millimeters thick, the amulet, of which part is missing, has a “raised decoration” on it with a loop at one end that allowed it to be worn on a cord around the neck, the City of David said in a statement.

The raised decoration shows a cartouche — an oval frame around Egyptian hieroglyphics indicating a royal name. Above the frame archaeologists could make out the symbol of an eye and that of a cobra.

A 3,200 year-old Egyptian amulet found in Jerusalem. (Zachi Dvira)
A 3,200 year-old Egyptian amulet found in Jerusalem. (Zachi Dvira)

“Thutmose III was one of the most important pharaohs in Egypt’s New Kingdom and is credited with establishing the Egyptian imperial province in Canaan,” said Gabriel Barkay, the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Thutmose III referred to himself as ‘the one who has subdued a thousand cities,’ and it is known that for more than 300 years, during the Late Bronze Age, Canaan and the city state of Jerusalem were under Egyptian dominion, likely explaining the presence of this amulet in Jerusalem.”

Prof. Gabriel Barkay at his Jerusalem archeological site Ketef Hinnom in 2009. (Ori229/ CC-BY-SA)
Prof. Gabriel Barkay. (Ori229/ CC-BY-SA)

“Objects bearing the name of Thutmose III continued to be produced in Egypt long after the time of his reign, reflecting the significance and lasting impression of this king,” Barkay said.

Dating the amulet was possible based on “an identical pendant found in Nahal Iron in northern Israel, announced in 1978,” explained Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Along with that pendant, which also bore the name of Thutmose III, was another amulet bearing the name of King Seti I, an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the late 14th to the early 13th centuries BCE. This seems to indicate that both pendants date to the same time period, namely the late 14th-early 13th century BC.”

The Temple Mount Sifting Project in Emek Tzurim, located on Mt Olives, near Jerusalem's Old City on March 10, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
The Temple Mount Sifting Project in Emek Tzurim, on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem’s Old City. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
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