Hiker discovers 3,500-year-old Egyptian antiquity in Galilee

Small, white object on the Horns of Hittim turns out to be scarab amulet

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

3,500-year-old scarab amulet found by a hiker in the Galilee, January 2016 (Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)
3,500-year-old scarab amulet found by a hiker in the Galilee, January 2016 (Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A 3,500-year-old Egyptian seal in the form of a scarab was discovered by an Israeli during a walk in the Lower Galilee.

Amit Haklai spotted a tiny white object while on an outing with his small children on the Horns of Hittim near Tiberias, Army Radio reported Tuesday.

Noticing that it was shaped like a scarab and had decorations engraved on it, he realized it was an ancient Egyptian seal and took it to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists determined that it was an amulet from the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt, from the 16th to the 11th century BCE.

The role of scarabs changed over time in ancient Egypt. Mainly used as amulets, they were also employed as personal or administrative seals or were incorporated into jewelry. Some scarabs were apparently created for political or diplomatic purposes to mark royal achievements. By the early New Kingdom, heart scarabs were being used to protect mummies.

The discovery of archaeological artifacts by amateurs is not unheard of in Israel.

In November, an 8-year-old boy, Itay Halperin, picked up a small ceramic object while visiting the Tel Beit Shemesh archaeological site with his family. The object turned out to be a 3,000-year-old head of a fertility goddess figurine.

During the Iron Age, Tel Beit Shemesh was a large Judean city and a major industrial center, Anna Eirich, an IAA archaeologist, explained at the time. “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,” she said in a statement.

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