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Israeli hiker finds ancient Egyptian seal

Hiker on family outing in the Galilee discovers rare Egyptian artifact.

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Ido Ben Porat,

The Egyptian seal
The Egyptian seal
Klara Amit/Antiquities Authority

During a hike with his children on the hills of the Horns of Hattin located in the lower Galilee, Amit Haklai, a resident of Kfar Hittin, found a small white stone nestled among the dark basalt rocks of the area.   

Amit picked up the stone and saw that it was engraved with the image of a beetle and understood that it was an ancient seal. He quickly called the Israel Antiquities Authority and gave them the artifact. He asked only that they tell him what was written on the seal, and what it could teach them about the location. 

The seal was identified by Dr. Dafan Ben Tor, the curator of the Ancient Egypt department of the Israel Museum, as a scarab, a charm from the new kingdom era of Egypt. According to Ben Tor "the scarab shows king Thutmose III sitting on his throne and in front of him a cartouche that says his name. A cartouche is an oval with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name in Hieroglyphics. 

Thutmose III reigned during the 15th century B.C.E., and during his reign Egypt set up governance over the land of Cana'an and waged numerous wars in the land, the most famous of which was the battle of Megiddo in the Jezreel valley. The famous battle is depicted on giant tablets on the walls of the temple in Karnak. 

"The scarab was a cosmological symbol that was important in Egyptian culture," said Ben Tor. "Many scarab symbols have been found throughout Israel pointing to the strong cultural and political influence that Egypt had over Israel at that time."  

The Horns of Hattin is an important historical location as it was the site of the Battle of Hattin that was waged in 1187 between between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Kurdish Ayyubid sultan Salah ad-Din, known by the name of Saladin. 

Almost two millennia before the battle took place, a fortress stood on the hills and was destroyed in the 13th century B.C.E.

Archaeologist Yardena Alexander, who works at the Antiquities Authority, said that "even though the seal was found on the surface and not as part of an archaeology dig, it should be attributed to the time period of the fortress."

Amit received an award for his help and for his being a good citizen. "It is important that my children grow up with a strong connection to their land and to the antiquities of our country," he told reporters afterwards.

Dr. Miki Saban, Director of National Treasures at the Antiquities Authority hailed the rare discovery.

"There is great importance for all citizens of Israel, who tour and hike through our national parks and attractions, and who from time to time come across antiquities or relics to pass them on to the Antiquities Authority.

"These items find a place of honor among our national treasures, enrich our archaeological knowledge about Israel, and many times even go on display at various museums. Thus the entire country can enjoy them."