A recent leisurely hike in the Nahal Tabor Nature Reserve in Israel’s Lower Galilee led to an unexpected discovery by 45-year-old hiker Erez Avrahamov, who stumbled upon a rare artifact dating back to the First Temple period.
He noticed something sparkling on the ground, initially mistaking it for a bead or an orange stone. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was an intricately engraved scarab amulet, crafted from reddish-brown carnelian stone.
Avrahamov promptly reported his find to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), as required by law. The scarab, roughly the size of a fingernail, depicted a beetle on one side and featured engravings of a griffin or winged horse on the other, typical of artistic styles from the eighth century BCE. Experts believe this scarab may have been used by an Assyrian or Babylonian official nearly 2,800 years ago, during the time of the First Temple.
The significance of this discovery lies in its potential link to the ancient Assyrian period of rule in the region. It was found near Tel Rekhesh, an important archaeological site associated with the city of Anaharath mentioned in the Book of Joshua. Yitzhak Paz, an archaeologist at the IAA suggested that the scarab’s presence may indicate the presence of Assyrian or Babylonian officials during this period.
Further analysis conducted at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland confirmed the scarab’s age and artistic motif. Professor Othmar Keel identified the image as a griffin, consistent with artistic styles of the eighth century BCE.
Director of the Israeli Antiquities Authority Eli Escusido commended Avrahamov for his exemplary citizenship in reporting the find and adhering to Israeli law regarding antiquities. Escusido highlighted the importance of reporting archaeological discoveries promptly, as the exact location of the find is crucial for extracting knowledge about it.
This unique scarab, preserved in the IAA’s national treasures department, will undergo further research to determine its exact origins and significance in the context of ancient Assyrian rule in the region.