8-year-old stumbles on First Temple-era archaeological find
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8-year-old stumbles on First Temple-era archaeological find

Indiana Jones fan Itai Halperin unearths a 3,000-year-old statuette of a fertility goddess at Tel Beit Shemesh

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Itai Halperin, 8, and the head of an Iron Age statuette he found while walking near Tel Beit Shemesh. (Arik Halperin, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)
Itai Halperin, 8, and the head of an Iron Age statuette he found while walking near Tel Beit Shemesh. (Arik Halperin, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

An Israeli boy’s dream to be like Indiana Jones when he grows up came true ahead of schedule during a recent visit to the Tel Beit Shemesh archaeological site with his family.

Itai Halperin, 8, of Pardesiya, was walking around the biblical site with his family last week when he picked up a small ceramic object which, upon closer examination, turned out to be a 3,000-year-old head of a figurine, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

The family immediately reported the find to the IAA.

Itai said he recently saw an Indiana Jones film and wanted to grow up to be an archaeologist. The IAA commended Itai and rewarded him by inviting his class to take part in an IAA excavation.

The head of an Iron Age statuette found by an 8-year-old while walking near Tel Beit Shemesh. (Alexander Glick, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)
The head of an Iron Age statuette found by an 8-year-old while walking near Tel Beit Shemesh. (Alexander Glick, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

Alon De Groot, an Iron Age specialist with the IAA, identified the find as the head of a fertility goddess statuette.

“Figurines such as these, in the shape of naked women representing fertility, were common in the homes of the residents of the Judean Kingdom in the 8th century BCE and until the destruction of the kingdom by the Babylonians in the days of Zedekia (in 586 BCE),” De Groot said in a statement.

Statuettes such as these help identify sites as Judean, he noted.

“It’s no coincidence that a statuette like this was found atop Tel Beit Shemesh, next to a residential quarter from the First Temple period,” Anna Eirich, an IAA archaeologist in the region, said in a statement.

During the Iron Age, Tel Beit Shemesh was a large Judean city and a major industrial center, she said. It was ruined by the Assyrian army in 701 BCE and finally destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

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