Amulet from Bible Times Found by Child

The 11-year-old discovered the late Iron Age (2,500 year old) female figurine on a family trip in the western Negev

Jonathan Laden March 10, 2021 / biblicalarchaeology.org

Pottery Figurine from 2500 years ago

Photo: Yevgeny Ostrovsky, Israel Antiquities Authority

Painstaking work and years of research leads to most advances in biblical archaeology. But luck is important too. On a family trip at Nahal HaBesor, 11-year-old Zvi Ben-David found a rare pottery figurine of a woman. It turns out this is one of only two such figurines ever to be discovered. What is believed to have been a common household protective amulet at the end of the Iron age or early Persian period, is now a rare relic of that distant biblical time.

The amulet, less than 3 inches tall and a bit more than 2 inches wide. depicts the top half of a bare-breasted woman with her hands folded under her chest. She is wearing a scarf over her head and neck. Oren Shmueli and Debbie Ben Ami of the Israel Antiquities Authority explain that the amulet would have been kept for protection, good luck, and prosperity. Also, to try and protect against infant mortality, which was very common. “In the absence of advanced medicine, amulets provided hope.”

Shmueli and Ben Ami express their gratitude to Zvi Ben-David for his find, and for sharing it with the National Treasures Collection. The rare figurine provides insight from 2,500 years ago into “cultic practices in biblical times, and man’s inherent need for material human personifications.”

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