Photo Credit: Erez Abrahamov selfie
Hiker Erez Abrahamov with the ancient Assyrian scarab.

Erez Abrahamov, 45, a resident of Paduel in Samaria, recently took a walk in the Nahal Tabor Nature Reserve in Lower Galilee and discovered a scarab amulet dating back to the First Temple period, about 2,800 years ago.

“I got a two-day leave from my reserves service and decided to go on a trip,” Abrahamov related. “During the trip, I saw something shimmering in the ground. At first, I thought it was a bead or an orange stone. But when I picked it up, I noticed it had engravings that resembled a beetle. I called and reported the amazing find to the Antiquities Authority.”

The scarab depicting a griffon. / Anastasia Shapiro, Israel Antiquities Authority

Nir Distelfeld, the inspector of the robbery prevention unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, recalled, “I received a call from Erez, and realized he had found something special. I told him to take a good look at the flat side of the scarab he found and check if there were any engravings on it. I immediately heard exclamations of owe on the phone, and he informed me that he could identify a figure.”

Distelfeld added that “the beautiful scarab was found at the foot of Tel Reches, one of the most important tels (hills) in the north of the country. The site is associated by researchers with the city of “Anharat (Joshua 19:19) in the territory of the tribe of Issachar.”

Prof. Emeritus Othmer Kiel from the University of Friborg in Switzerland said the figure depicted on the scarab, which is made of a semi-precious stone called carnelian, is a griffon, or a winged horse, galloping. Similar scarabs have been dated to the 8th century BCE.

Opposite face of the scarab. / Anastasia Shapiro, Israel Antiquities Authority

“We thank Erez, who demonstrated good citizenship and handed over the rare scarab to the state’s treasures,” said Distelfeld, adding, “We awarded him a certificate on behalf of the IAA for demonstrating exemplary citizenship. Such a rare find can certainly expand our knowledge of the past.”

Dr. Itzik Paz, an archaeologist with the IAA who excavated at Tel Rachsh, said, “One of the most important remains in the mound dates back to the Iron Age (6th-7th centuries BCE). During this period, a large citadel stood at the top of the hill, with plastered bathing facilities, halls, and ceremonial rooms, belonging to the Assyrians.”

The Assyrians, as we know, were responsible for the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel.

Paz believes the scarab may belong to the Assyrian era in Israel, and could indicate the presence of Assyrian or Babylonian officials at Tel Reches during this period. The griffon that appears on the seal is a well-known artistic motif in the ancient Near East and is common on seals from the Iron Age.

“Because so few findings have been discovered so far in the citadel, and if indeed the seal can be dated, based on artistic aspects, to the late Iron Age, we may be able to link the seal to an Assyrian presence in the citadel of Tel Reches, which would be a discovery of great significance,” said Paz.

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