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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Rare Ancient Coffin in Jezreel Valley Holds Egyptian Pharaoh’s Signet Ring

Also found next to the deceased was an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring.
Gold scarab with symbol of Pharaoh Seti I set in a ring found in a 3,300 year old coffin in the Jezreel Valley

Gold scarab with symbol of Pharaoh Seti I set in a ring found in a 3,300 year old coffin in the Jezreel Valley
Photo Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

A gold signet ring bearing the name of Egyptian Pharoah Seti I was among the personal belongings of a wealthy Canaanite recently discovered in a 3,300-year-old coffin at the foot of Tel Shadud in the Jezreel Valley.

The archaeological dig took place at a site where construction was to begin on a pipeline carrying natural gas to Ramat Gavriel by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company.

The Israel Antiquities Authority usually carries out an excavation at construction sites before any project begins. Often, unusual discoveries are made, and this time was no exception.

Excavation directors Dr. Edwin van den Bring, Dan Kirzner and the IAA’s Dr. Ron Be’eri said, “We discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical coffin with an anthropoidal lid – a cover fashioned in the image of a person – surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones… it seems these were used as offerings for the gods and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.”

The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin. Next to it was more pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze.

Rare 3,300 year old coffin of a wealthy Canaanite uncovered in the Jezreel Valley.

Rare 3,300 year old coffin of a wealthy Canaanite uncovered in the Jezreel Valley.

“Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally, we assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government.”

Also found next to the deceased was an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. This item is used to seal documents and objects.

The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the 13th century BCE, appears on the seal. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars are the pharaoh mentioned in the Biblical story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt.

The Egyptian coffin lid after it was cleaned up. Photo by: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Egyptian coffin lid after it was cleaned up.
Photo by: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Beit Shean Valley, but he conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan.

Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, and the reference to him on the scarab found in the coffin aided the researchers in dating the time of burial. A cemetery dating to Seti I’s reign was previously uncovered at Beit Shean, the center of Egyptian rule in the Land of Israel, and similar clay coffins were exposed.

This new discovery, however, surprised archaeologists.

Tel Shadud preserves the Biblical name “Sarid” and the mound, located in the northern part of the Jezreel Valley close to Kibbutz Sarid, is often referred to as Tel Sarid.

The city is mentioned in the Bible among the settlements of the Tribes of Israel, with Sarid included in the territory of the Tribe of Zevulun as a border city. It is mentioned in the Book of Joshua:

“The third lot came up for the Tribe of Zevulun, according to its families. And the territory of its inheritance reached as far as Sarid . . . (Joshua 19:10)

The researchers add that only a few such coffins have been uncovered in this country – the last one found at Deir el-Bala about 50 years ago.

About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.


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16 Responses to “Rare Ancient Coffin in Jezreel Valley Holds Egyptian Pharaoh’s Signet Ring”

  1. I would like to know more about it!!!

  2. Guy Peters says:

    Very ,and I mean VERY INTERESTING!!!

  3. Hal Eckman says:

    Good historical find for the IAA. While not Israelite in any sense according to the article, it gives us a look at how the Canaanites lived under Egyptian rule and how they became intwined with that culture.

  4. I was thinking on that last night,..

  5. It probably belonged to Joseph. He was prime minister, second only to pharaoh.This is signifying his authority . Joseph’s bones were brought back to Canaan during the Exodus.

  6. I enjoyed article. Hope to find out more!

  7. Sounds like possibly Joseph’s burial site???

  8. Sarah Williams says:

    I love stuff like this–thanks. And it is very well-written–kudos to the reporter!

  9. Sarah Williams says:

    Someone please tell the editors to put a share button on these pages!

  10. Joels Davidi says:

    Fascinating.

  11. נתניאל פיינגולד says:

    According to one chronology, Set I would have reigned approx. between the Shoftim Ehud and Devora, when Yavin ruled Kena'an from Hatsor. Perhaps the Egyptians were instrumental in helping the Kena'anite cities that were able to avoid conquest (i.e. parts of Yerushalayim, Megiddo, Gezer, etc).

  12. נתניאל פיינגולד says:

    Yehoshua 17
    11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Beth-shean and its towns, and Ibleam and its towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, and the inhabitants of En-dor and its towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and its towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns, even the three regions.
    12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites were resolved to dwell in that land.

  13. Very interesting find.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I believe it's the remains of Joseph….is DNA possible?

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