CANAANITE ART AND CRAFTS

CANAANITE ART AND CRAFTS


Canaanite relief depicting a playing lion and lioness, 14th century BC

Canaan art objects, excavated by archaeologists, include an 18.5-inch-long ivory horn with gold bands, circa 1400 B.C., unearthed at Megiddo in present-day Israel, and a vessel with the Egyptian hawk-god Hyksos, unearthed in Ashkelon.

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “A dye vat, now resting on its side, from Tell Beit Mirsim vat was carved out of a single block of limestone. The thread or cloth was dipped into the dye through the center opening and then the excess dye was carefully squeezed out and any run-off was caught in the outer trough and channeled back into the vat. The value placed on dyed cloth is evident from the remarks of Sisera's mother (Judg. 5:30).<=>

A contemporary bronze cast of a goddess figure made from a mold found in a Canaanite shrine from about 1500 B.C. uncovered at Nahariyah, which is located along the Palestinian coast, north of Acco. It is quite probable that priests or smiths at the shrine manufactured figurines for sale to worshipers. The goddess, who may be Astarte, wears a horned headdress, like the goddess Hathor of Egypt, a tall peaked cap, and, perhaps, a string of beads.<=>

A jug from the Late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 B.C.) probably imported to Palestine from Cyprus has White decorative stripes have been added to the rich chocolate-brown background. Such vessels would be in use among the Canaanites when the Hebrews entered the land.<=>

John R.Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “The 'Ain Samiya Goblet is a unique piece with depiction which many interpret to be a mythical scene from the Enuma Elis. A two headed figure appears to be teasing one and perhaps two serpents. Two other individuals dressed in a sumerian-style skirts holds a rope design above a serpent and below a sun-like rosette. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html]

An “important point about the Late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 B.C.) concerns the egyptianization of this indigenous culture. Artifacts and building structures become more egyptian-like as one moves from the early Late Bronze into Late Bronze Age. Cultural practices also change to Egyptian fashion (e.g. burial practices). Such egyptianization may be due to the proximity of Egypt to Palestine as well as the ways in which Egypt exercised complete control over this region. (NOTE: Egyptianization of Nubia occurred during the same period and may speak to how Egypt influence native culture to adopt an egyptian life style.) As Albright and others may have rightly noted, Palestine proper remained generally loyal to Egypt throughout the Late Bronze Age, while Upper Retenu, modern Syria, did not. |*|

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ccel.org ; Judaism Judaism101 jewfaq.org ; Aish.com aish.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; torah.org torah.org ; Chabad,org chabad.org/library/bible ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/judaism ; BBC - Religion: Judaism bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com/topic/Judaism; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline jewishhistory.org.il/history ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center dinur.org ; Center for Jewish History cjh.org ; Jewish History.org jewishhistory.org ; Christianity and Christians Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Christianity.com christianity.com ; BBC - Religion: Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/ ; Christianity Today christianitytoday.com

Crafts from Bronze Age Canaan and Ancient Israel


back of a Canaanite scarab with a cartouche of King Sheshi

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “Besides pottery, Egyptian and egyptianized scarabs, wooden combs, bronze toggle pins, bone/ivory inlays for wooden boxes, alabaster vases, bronze weapons and wooden tables (see, Jericho), one may also find food offerings in the tomb (see, Jericho [Tell es-Sultan] and Megiddo) including pomegranates, dates, and animal joints. Offerings of liquid also seem possible given some evidence of remains in large storage jars Jericho. Fragments of textiles from Jericho and other sites as well as the high number of toggle pins for fastening garments indicate that the deceased was clothed and may have worn a headdress. Rush mats lying under the deceased and baskets were also uncovered at Jericho. | [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

“Several unique burials at Tell el-Ajjul, dated to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, contain horse or donkey burials and perhaps riders. In the center of a circular tomb is the skeletal remains of a horse. In cut shelves or beds along the perimeter Flinders Petrie found primary burials. More recently, similar burials of humans and donkeys together were uncovered at Tell ed-Dab'a (perhaps also, Tell el-Maskhuta) in Egypt and in a Late Bronze Age tomb at Gezer and Baq'ah valley. Tell ed-Dab'a, perhaps part of the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris, was dotted with crypts and cist burials similar but not identical to burial practices at Gibeon (el Jib). Similar mud-brick crypts were uncovered at Tell el-Maskhuta (possibly, ancient Pithom). |*|

“Flat-based ware of the Early Bronze and the early Middle Bronze Age period is replaced by the round-base ware of Middle Bronze II. Characteristics ceramic forms, such as lamps, dipper juglets and storage jars, first appear in the late Middle Bronze Age and continue in the Late Bronze and Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.) with gradual modifications over the centuries. |*|

“A thick red slip coats the surface of many vessels. This slip is burnished, thus giving the appearance of metal. In fact, imitation of metal pieces seems to be a desired artistic goal for this pottery style. We even find clay-like rivets on jar handles near the rims as would be expected on the actual metal jugs and juglets. Some other pottery pieces may imitate fine objects in wood or alabaster. |*|

“A pottery treatment of special note, Tell Yahudiyeh ware, has incised, pricked decoration with filled white paint. Towards the end of this period, bichrome pottery and Chocolate-on-White ware appear. Both forms of painted pottery herald the beginning of the decorative tradition of the Late Bronze, painted ware. |*|

Interesting pieces include: “Carinated Bowl (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Carinated Bowl on display, Univ. of Penn. Museum; Carinated Bowl, (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Carinated Chalice Side-handle Jug (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Pitcher Jug (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Jug with imitation rivets; Dipper Juglet (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Piriform Juglet (El Tomb 15); “Barrel Juglet (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15); Barrel Juglets (Gibeon [el Jib] Tomb 15 and Beth Shemesh Tomb 3); Tell Yahudiyeh barrel juglet (Beth Shemesh Tomb 3) ; Tell Yahudiyeh Piriform juglet (El Jib Tomb 22); Anthropomorphic vase (Jericho) |*|

Statues and Figures from Bronze Age Canaan


enthroned deity

Late Stone Age objects from ancient Canaan include a Large stone stela of Ramesis II and Seti I from Beth Shan, commemorating their victories over local cities. Votive stela from Beth Shan and Balau' show worship of Canaanite and Egyptian pantheon. These include Votive Stela of Mekal (Beth Shan IX) and Votive Stela of Ashtaroth (Beth Shan VIII). A Late Stone Age statue of the Egyptians god Horus was found at Beth Shan VI). [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

Abercrombie wrote: “Although clay figurines appear first in the late Middle Bronze period, they remain generally rare until towards the end of the Late Bronze Age. Earliest examples from the early Late Bronze are nudes with hands on breasts and incised designs (Megiddo Tombs., Pl. 139:25). In Late Bronze Age , oval-shaped plaquest Figurines are with depiction of nude female usually holding two lotus blossoms or stalks or snakes become quite common. The nude's coiffure may have ringlets like the Egyptian goddess Hathor or just long flowing hair. She may or may not be wearing anklets. Her feet may even be pigeon-toed. The design on the clay plaques seem to mimic similar depictions of a female form, often identified as Astarte, that first appears on gold foil in the Middle Bronze Age. Such renderings, however, are not limited to gold foil appliques and occur also on cylinder seals as well as statuary where this goddess stands on the back of a lion. Clay figurines, shawabtis, are part of Egyptian burial rites and serve the deceased in the next world. Such clay figurines occur only in the richest burials at sites where Egyptian presence is well documented. Another, more unique figure has no clear parallels in Palestine. |*|

“Animal models prove rarer in the Bronze than in the Iron Age. A unique piece from Beth Shan, a cobra, is worth mentioning here not only because of its rarity, but also because the snake, a symbol of immortality, seems to be such a predominant image on incense burners or house models at this and other sites. Other zoomorphic fragments from Beth Shan are identified as bulls. |*|

“Other types of clay models include cone and dumbbell-shaped models of bread (?) for offerings (Beth Shan), models of the liver for divination (Megiddo and Hazor) using animal entrails, model of a human ear (Gezer and Shiloh) and miniature pottery (Hazor and Beth Shan). A small clay mask, thought to be for a statue, from one of the Hazor temples as well as a more fragmentary example from Beth Shan and Tel Dan demonstrate that this form occurs in the Bronze Age as well as being characteristic of coastal sites in the so-designated Phoenician spheres in the Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.). |*|

“In stratum VII Beth Shan a unique anthropoid jar supposedly of the Egyptian deity Bes was uncovered. Bes' hands are across his middle forming a circle around a spout. There are now a growing corpus of such so-designated libation jars including one from Lachish (male?, Late Bronze) and others from Tell Qasile (female?, Iron I). |*|

“Metal statuettes indicates the mixing of Egyptian and Canaanite pantheons (e.g. Statue of Hathor from Beth Shan). Bronze statues from Megiddo of a seated individual (courtesy: The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago) and another individual with cudgel striding forward (Megiddo Tombs., Pl 153:8) are often identified with the two main deities of the Canaanite pantheon, El and Baal respectively. Two small statuettes with dowels, probably of the Reshef (?) wearing a conical cap, was uncovered at Lachish (Lachish IV., pp. 82-83, Pl. 25:69). Other evidence supporting these identification include iconography from cylinder seals, Middle Bronze statuary from Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) in northern Syria, and later Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.) votive stela from Syria (ANEP, 825 - bronze figurine, Shechem Field VII, 831 - seated bronze figurine, Hazor, Area A, Loc 230d, A 5456, 832 - figurine of bull with dowels, Hazor, H58, Loc 2113, St IA, 836 - seated bronze figurine, Hazor H127, Loc 2113, St. IA).|*|

“Bronze statuary, more prevalent in later sites, can be cited from a few Middle Bronze II level at Megiddo and Nahariyah. Such statues of mostly male deities (?) are common from important sites in Syria, Byblos and Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit). Gold sheets are thought to depict goddesses. |*|

Statues, Masks and Figures from Iron Age Canaan


masks at the Israel Museum

Abercrombie wrote: “Astarte plaques, that first appeared in the Late Bronze Age, continue into the early Iron Age but disappear by The Late Iron Age. The plethora of figurines generally associated with the Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.) date mostly to The Late Iron Age. A unique figurine, the Ashdoda, appears at the beginning of the early Iron Age and is associated probably with intrusive coastal cultures we often refer to as Philistine. The Ashdoda has close parallels to Aegean figurines and is a female nude encased, it seems, in a couch-like chair. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

In the Late Iron Age “a wide variety of clay figurines, quadrupeds and furniture models can be cited from numerous sites in the region. The female figurines vary in type, although the most common are those with arms folded below protruding breasts (pillared type). The pillared figurines are generally composed of two pieces, a head molded in a bronze mould and an unfashioned clay body shaped like a pillar. |*|

“It is often difficult to determine the type of animal depicted in clay, although some are clearly horses with riders, a common form from the late Iron Age into the Persian period. Minature furniture and pottery forms also occur at a few sites (Lachish). Archaeologists are generally divided on whether the figurines are part of the cultic fertility rituals, charms, or simply children's toys. |*|

Interesting pieces include Horse with rider figurine, Univ. of Penn. Museum; Quadruped figurine of gazelle?, (Beth Shemesh Stratum II?); Pillared figurines (Univ. of Penn. Museum and (Beth Shemesh Stratum II) and Molded heads (Univ. of Penn. Museum and Beth Shemesh Stratum II?); Bell-shaped figurine holding a bird?, Sarepta I, Fig. 41:1 (Sarepta Shrine I); Figurine playing tambourine?, Sarepta I, Fig. 42:2 (Sarepta Shrine I); “Sphinx throne triad, Sarepta I, Fig. 42:3 (Sarepta Shrine I) A unique statue of Osiris probably to be inserted on a staff might date to the late Iron Age or more likely the Persian period where some good parallels are known (Gibeon winery locus 201.70)” |*|

“Two types of clay masks were discovered at Sarepta: seven minature masks and two full-size, life-like mask. Some of these masks have decorated beards and applied paint. Only one mask had attachment holes. The actual function of such masks is a topic of much discussion amongst archaeologists and some of the hypotheses include masks used in rituals (processions and funerary rites), masks placed on on votive statues and masks used for protection against demonic forces. Clay masks occur from Late Bronze (see Hazor and Beth Shan) into the Persian period (Dor). At Tell Qasile, several fragments of full-size masks were found including three fragments of zoomorphic masks, unique pieces with no clear parallels in the region. |*|

“At Tel Qasile three uniquely interesting clay vessels were uncovered in association with the so-designated Temple. The first is zoomorphic rhyton, a cup with its bottom in the shape of a lion. The Philistine style on the rhyton aids in dating the piece to Iron I. There are some four other known examples from Megiddo, Tell es-Safi, Tell Jerisheh, and Tell Zeror. The second fascinating vessel, again from the Temple area, was a zoomorphic "trick" vase that when filled with water and turned upside down retains the liquid in a secret compartment. Finally, an anthropoid (probably female) vessel with spout holes at the breasts is another example in a growing corpus of these unique jars, including one from Beth Shan VII, which are often found in association with contexts labelled cultic. |*|

Bone Inlays and Ivory Boxes from the Bronze Age


Canaanite sacred trees carved on elephant ivory

Abercrombie wrote: “Bone inlays appear in Middle Bronze IIB and continue to be used as decoration on jewelry/cosmetic boxes into Late Bronze Age. Small, flat bone inlays can be cited from many Palestinian sites (Tell Beit Mirsim, Tell el-Ajjul, Tell ed-Duweir, Tell el-Fa'rah (S), Hazor, Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), Gezer, Tel Dan, Gibeon (el Jib) as well as Egyptian tombs. A large corpus of inlays comes from the Jericho Tombs (see Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, Vols. I-II). Concentric Circles, guilloche, chevrons, zig-zag lines, herringbone pattern, and other incised line designs are common treatments on rectangular and sometimes triangular strips. Excavators occasionally find carved birds, lions, antelopes, humans and hieroglyphic symbols (e.g. djed=pillar). [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu |*|]

“More intricate ivory boxes may appear in the late Middle Bronze Age though they are more commonly found in the Late Bronze and early Iron Age. A duck-shaped cosmetic box (Megiddo Tombs, Pl. 104) is clearly from the late Middle Bronze Age burial. |*| [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

“Larger and more intricate ivory pieces become common place in the late Late Bronze Age: complete ivory boxes, handles in animal shapes (cat, bull, ibex), cosmetic bowls with birds head (in most cases, a duck) or in the shape of a fish, cosmetic spoons designed in the shape of a swimming girl, combs with single or double set of teeth, wands some with pomegrante tops (?) but most with incised designs, stoppers, chalices, floral pattern lids for chalices or boxes, and game boards. An exquisite piece from Lachish Fosse Temple, a uniquely carved ivory tusk with spoon and woman's head, is a well-known object of tribute in Eighteenth Dynasty tomb reliefs and, we could imagine that it may have contained scented oil. Another ivory box from Pella with its depiction of lions is an outstanding example of the high art of the Bronze Age. |*|

“Perhaps the most important collection of ivories yet uncovered is from the large palace complex at Megiddo. The 320 pieces, dated the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, include furniture panels and rungs, cosmetic boxes, gameboards and pieces, combs, wands, pen cases, shallow bowls, kohl box lids, ointment spoons, decorated unguent horns (see example from Lachish Fosse Temple), and numerous fragments. Depictions of hunts, animal combat, animals at rest, feasts, processions, offerings, deities, and various palmette and rosette designs abound. The collection is useful far beyond documenting just the use of ivory in the Bronze Age. At the very least, it illustrates the cosmopolitan nature of this culture with its mixed Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs. |*|

“At the end of the Bronze Age, long bone spindles and wands associated with bone whorls are found at a few sites: Lachish Fosse Temple III, Megiddo Tombs. Such conical whorls may have been used in spinning though one cannot rule out that they may have had other functions (e.g. buttons). |*|

Ivory Inlays in the Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.)


Canaanite scarab

Abercrombie wrote: “ A discussion of ivories in the early Iron Age should always begin with the exquisite collection from the palace at Megiddo. Although most archaeologists feel that the 320 pieces fit best into the Late Bronze Age, one inscribed piece with the name of Ramesis III indicates that the collection extends into the twelfth century. In addition, the increasing number of pieces from the early Iron Age contexts (e.g., Beth Shan and Tell Qasile) and their similarity to the Megiddo collection suggests that the tradition and style of the ivory inlays continues into Iron I. The Megiddo collection, itself, is composed of furniture panels and rungs, cosmetic boxes, gameboards and pieces, combs, wands, pen cases, shallow bowls, kohl box lids, ointment spoons, decorated unguent horns (see example from Lachish Fosse Temple), and numerous fragments. Depictions of hunts, animal combat, animals at rest, feasts, processions, offerings, deities, and various palmette and rosette designs abound. The collection is useful far beyond documenting just the use of ivory in the Bronze Age and illustrates the cosmopolitan nature of this culture with its mixed Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs. At Beth Shan and other sites, one finds the same types of objects made of ivory as in the Late Bronze Age: game boards, bowls, combs, toilet boxes, toilet box lids with rosette design, and furniture inlays. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu |*|]

“The Late Iron Age:The ivories in the University of Pennsylvania Museum are excellent examples of Phoenician ivory inlays. Most known examples were uncovered at Nimrud, capital of the Assyrian kings, but a few can be cited from the area of Syro-Palestine. A dozen or so good pieces came to light in the excavations of Samaria and were found in debris dated to the destruction of the city in 722/721 (1 Kings 22:39, Amos 3:15, 6:4a). Other similar ivory examples from Arslan Tash in Syria bear close similarity to the contemporary examples from Samaria and Nimrud. An ivory fragment from Sarepta is one of the few examples of Phoenician ivories found in Phoenicia proper. Most ivories are small plaques that were inlays probably in furniture or wall panels, though ivory continues to be used for cosmetic spoons, boxes, and handles. Artistically the ivories mix Egyptian and Mesopotamian styles. Themes include animal combat, tree of life, woman gazing from windows and other female figures thought to be goddesses. |*|

“The eclectic art of the ivories mixes Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs. For example, an Egyptian style head with the crown ofUpper and Lower Egypt is found on a Mesopotamian griffin. Other forms have an Egyptian feel to them (e.g, the lotus flowers), but are clearly not Egyptian pieces. Such blossoming lotus buds can be cited from other art and architecture designs (e.g. proto-Aeolic column form Megiddo). A final group of forms (e.g. lions) do not seem to fit into the artistic designs of Egypt or Mesopotamia. This mixture of Egyptian and Mesopotamian forms is thought to reflect a region where such eclectism is possible, thus the origin of the term Phoenician ivories. The Lachish ostraca date to the last days of the Judaean kingdom, beginning sixth century, and are military dispatches the record the methodical demise of garrison in the hill country. |*|

Canaanite Jewelry in the Bible


Canaanite jewelry

Genesis 24:22 When the camels had done drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, [Source: John R. Abercrombie, Boston University, bu.edu, Dr. John R. Abercrombie, Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania]

Ezekial 16:12 And I put a ring on your [female] nose, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.

Exodus 35:22 So they came, both men and women; all who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD.

Numbers 31:50 And we have brought the LORD's offering, what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD."

Judges 8:24 And Gideon said to them, "Let me make a request of you; give me every man of you the earrings of his spoil." (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ish'maelites.)

Judges 8:26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold; besides the crescents and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Mid'ian, and besides the collars that were about the necks of their camels.

Isaiah 3:18-21 In that day the Lord will take away [from the daughters of Zion] the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarfs; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes and the amulets; the signet rings and noise rings;

Prov 11:22 Like a gold ring in a swine's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Jewelry in the Middle Bronze Age (2200 - 1570 B.C.) Canaan

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: ““TOGGLE PINS: Elongated copper toggle pins do occur in a few the early Middle Bronze Age burials in Syria and northern Palestine. Such pins are narrow and much longer than examples from later perods. The tie hole is located quite close to the pin's head. No examples of this type of pin can be cited from Beth Shan and Gibeon (el Jib). No examples of early Middle Bronze Age beads were able to be located in the University's collection though records indicate early Middle Bronze Age beads were collected from Tomb 32 Gibeon (El Jib). A fine collection of barrel-shaped and spherical beads were uncovered at Jericho (Tell es-Sultan). [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Middle Bronze Age jewelry

“The typical garment fastener of the Bronze Age is often found in tombs. Various types of toggle pins are known, and the tombs at Gibeon (el Jib) generally illustrate the types used in MBIIB rather than MBIIC. Almost all toggle pins of this period are cast in bronze rather than precious metals as is more common in Late Bronze Age . They also lack knob or nail heads as well as etched designs, features of Late Bronze pins. |*|

“Gold sheet pendants, bands and even dagger-shaped sheets depicting goddesses (?), are part of the high art of this period. Many pieces appear to be adornment items especially the pendants and bands. Use of gold foil sown into headdresses seems evident from a number of burials at Megiddo dated to the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. The finest collection of such forms occurs in the courtyard cemetery and hoards at Tell el-Ajjul, ancient Gaza. Only scattered examples from contemporary remains can be cited from other excavations, and it is not until the Late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 B.C.) that one finds such quality work throughout the region. Petrie's discovery at Ajjul, thus, remains one of the great discoveries in the high art of this region. |*|

Scarabs become the signet item of choice in the second millennium replacing the cylinder seal. The earliest types of scarabs tend to be slightly smaller than most later examples; less detailed designs; and have. smooth, undecorated backs. Rapidly in the 12th Dynasty, the scarab designed developed as this mostly amuletic charm became more common in tombs and on tells. For details on proposed classification, see Tufnell's work cited below (particularly, Table 34). |*| ▪ “A particular style of scarab, often called Hyksos, is easily identifiable by designs on the front, or face. The border around the scarab's face may have geometric design, such as concentric circles, swirls, cross-hatching and volutes. Hieroglyphics tend to be gibberish, non-sensical or simplistic expressions wishing health for the wearer or a god. Such wishes seem to indicate that the scarab was also considered to be a talisman, a function that seems a characteristic use of later scarabs. Scarabs with pharonic titles are extremely rare in the Middle Bronze Age. An pharonic scarab of Sesostris III was found in Stratum IX, Beth Shan (Late Bronze Age A). |*|

“Scarabs in this period are generally found near the neck or fingers in the few undisturbed burials. Occasionally scarabs are found suspended, it appears, from toggle pins. The location of the scarabs tend to suggest that even very early they functioned more as amuletic charms than signet items. |*|

Jewelry in the Late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 B.C.) Canaan

Abercrombie wrote: “Jewelry styles increase prodigiously in the Late Bronze Age. Paste and Lotus-seed carnelian beads, more intricate toggle pins, royal scarabs, and theophoric and other types pendants/amulets occur throughout the lands that Egyptians called Djahi, or Palestine. Some pieces were obviously manufactured in Egypt, though many more appear to be local imitations of Egyptian prototypes. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania; James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Canaanite jewelry piece

“By the late thirteenth century, Egyptian amulets appear in the richer burials and are commonly found in altar areas in temples. Archaeologists hypothesize that these artifacts were either votive objects offered to the gods and/or decorated statuary of particular deities. Some of the more common types of amulets/pendants include depictions of deities (Ptah Sokar, Bes, Aegis of Bast, Sacred eye of Horus), animals (fish, hippopotamus), flora, hieroglyphs and geometric forms. Most amulets and pendants are faience, although the few locally made examples are gold, bone, shell and metal. Plaque amulets become more common place towards the end of the period and continue into the early Iron Age period. |*|

“Beads, which are extremely rare in the Middle Bronze II, increase in number and types as one moves from the the early Late Bronze to Late Bronze Age . The dramatic increase in beads, both number and type, perhaps is a direct result of the invention of glass around 1600. Spherical, cylindrical, barrel and disc-shaped beads are made of paste or faience, though stone and metal beads continue to be produced throughout the period and into the Iron Age. Generally bead shapes prove an unreliable indicator of date. A few bead forms, however, are distinctive and can be placed into specific chronological periods. The gold palmette bead is well known from Egyptian sites, but rare in Palestine (Deir el-Balah Tomb 118). A derivative form, the lily shaped pendant, is common in the Late Bronze Age . The lotus-seed carnelian bead appears in the late Late Bronze Age (Deir el-Balah Tomb 116, Tell el-Farah S Tomb 934, Beth Shemesh St. IV Pit 1005) and continues into the early Iron Age (Beth Shan Tombs 7, 66). |As the number of bead strands increases towards the end of the Bronze Age, bead spacers are employed to separate anywhere from two to almost a dozen strands of beads. Strings of beads were worn by some adult females and children either around the neck or on the wrist. |*|

The earliest type of earrings, the mulberry earring, has one or three cluster balls attached to a loop; it appears at the end of Middle Bronze IIC or the beginning of the Late Bronze and may continue to the end of the period. Later open and smaller circular earrings dominate the first part of Late Bronze Age . Towards the end of Late Bronze Age , the lunate earring with its swelling base becomes the most common form: Deir el-Balah Tomb 118, Tell el-Farah S Tombs 922, 934, Beth Shan Tomb ?, Megiddo Tombs 912B (Late Bronze) and 39 (Iron I). It continues to be the more common type of earring in Iron I. A fruit-shaped (pomegrante?) earring is much rarer and restricted, it appears, the Late Bronze Age: Deir el-Balah Tombs 116,118, Tell el-Farah S Tomb 934, and Beth Shemesh St. IV. |*|

“Thin gold, occasionally silver and rarely bronze sheets with looped ends either function as earrings or are sown into clothing. Fine collections of these delicate appliques with their floral designs or etched female heads were uncovered at Tell el-Ajjul (ancient Gaza), Lachish, Megiddo and Beth Shan. Most examples from Beth Shan date to Late Bronze Age B and are rosettes, a common floral design common on other artifacts, ivory lids, pottery, and statuary. |Foil sheets also were sown into headdresses or worn as bands around the head. Some excavators identify these frontlets as mouthpieces which were occasionally employed in an Aegean practices for sealing the lips. No known examples in Palestine proper have been found over the mouth of a deceased; however, several skeletons (Megiddo II., p.?.) have foil strips on the forehead. |*|

Continuity to the Middle Bronze Age (2200 - 1570 B.C.) can be seen in scarabs in Late Bronze I, for unlike Egypt, scarab design in Palestine does not change significantly at the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Hyksos-like scarabs continue to be produced locally in the early Late Bronze and even into Late Bronze Age . By the end of Late Bronze I, a more typical style of scarab appears and usually has the royal cartouche of an Egyptian pharaoh, more likely Thothmosis III (Mn- hpr-R'). In addition to royal scarabs, many other scarabs of the Late Bronze have expression of luck and goodwill for the bearer, thus suggesting that scarabs were becoming more amuletic in this period than in the previous Middle Bronze Age. Animal scarabs also become quite common in Late Bronze Age . A special type of scarab, the large commemorative scarab reporting special events during the pharaoh's reign (e.g. Amunhotep III), are occasionally discovered. |*|

Small finger rings are occasionally uncovered. Several faience rings from Beth Shan had a molded wadjet, or sacred eye symbol. Small and generally non-descript looped copper rings complete the corpus. Late Bronze Toggle pins are squat in comparison to Middle Bronze examples. Pins may have more elaborate heads (nail, knob head, twisted design or incised design) as well as being made from gold, electrum and, of course, bronze. Towards the end of the Bronze Age, bronze anklets are found on some adult female skeletons. The location of such anklets and armlets on figurines also confirm the decorative use of these larger bronze rings. In fact, it might be pejorative to identify some of these bangles as bracelets given that they are rarely found around the wrist and more often occur on the upper arm. |*|

Jewelry in the Iron Age (1200 - 550 B.C.) Canaan


Late Bronze Age silver jewelry

Abercrombie wrote: “Lotus-seed carnelian beads (Beth Shan Tombs 7, 66) and lunate earrings, typical forms of the the late Late Bronze Age period, occur in the early Iron Age tombs as well. Some of the more common types of amulets are the Ptah Sokar, Uraeus, and Bes. Scarabs remain the typical signet item of Iron I, though, stamp seals, which will become a dominant form in The Late Iron Age, begin to appear in burials (Tell es-Sa'idiyeh 118, Baq'ah Valley Cave A4). Gold foil fragments are thought to have been used either to seal the lips of the deceased or to be sown into headdress (that is, frontlets), much as some the early Late Bronze burials from Megiddo seem to demonstrate. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

“The lunate earring of the Late Bronze and the early Iron Age continues, but undergoes transformation in The Late Iron Age. A tab or tassel is added to the earring in the first half of the late Iron Age. The tassel or tab becomes longer and longer, and the earring itself becomes thicker and heavier, thus reflecting more the general jewelry style of Assyria. |*|

“Bone pendants, the most common being long cylinders or minature mallets, are commonly found in tenth-seventh century remains. The pendants have a hole at one end and may be decorated with circular ring designs or incised lines. Such pendants have been found at a number of sites in Palestine. How the pendants were worn is debated.W.F. Albright suggested that they were earrings, though there is much difficulty in determining how they would be fastened to the ear (TBM III. p.81). Others have concluded that they were worn individually as part of a bead necklace. |*|

“Scarabs continue to be used as amulets and perhaps signet items. Most common types of scarabs are decorated with animals (lion, fish, horse, scorpion), good luck expressions (usually egyptian symbols for life, prosperity or health) and pharaonic names (sometimes even the names of kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty). Scaraboids, scarab-like seals, appear more frequently. |*|

“Bangles with overlapping ends become more common than the open- end forms of the Late Bronze Age. Earlier Iron I-II bangles tend to be more slender and tappered than bangles dated to the end of The Late Iron Age. These later examples are heavy looking. Egyptian or egyptianize amulets common to the early Iron Age continue to be found in The Late Iron Age. By late The Late Iron Age, however, the number and types of amulets decreases dramatically throughout most of the region with the exception of sites on the immediate coast. The toggle pin, the Bronze Age fastener, disappears by the late Iron Age and is replaced by the fibula, or safety pin. This becomes the preferred fastener of the first millennium. Such fasteners, made of bronze or iron, vary in the shape of the bow and added decorations. |*|

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons, Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bible in Bildern, 1860

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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