Uri Grinhot and the statuette
Uri Grinhot and the statuette Photo: Moriah Grinhot

During a hike with his father and friends in the archaeological park Tel Rehov, 7-year-old Uri Grinhot from Tel Beth-She’an came upon a small figure covered with soil.

Uri’s mother, Moriah Grinhot, spoke of her son’s excitement upon discovering the ceramic figurine, “We explained to him that it was an antique, and that the Antiquities Authority maintains such findings for the general public”.

The family reported the remarkable finding to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and a representative came to the boy’s elementary school in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, to award him with a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship.

Uri’s teacher, Esther Dell, found it amazing that archaeologists from the authority came to the school to explain the significance of the statuette as she had just been educating her students about idol worship.

“I explained about statues used in idol worship, and all of a sudden, I realize that here is one in our classroom,” said Dell.

The ceramic statuette is a figure of a nude woman, which was made by pressing the soft clay into the mold.

Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Amichai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University who leads a delegation of archaeological excavation representatives in the area, inspected the statuette and noted that “It is typical of the Canaanite culture of 15th to 13th centuries BC. Some researchers believe the figure represents a woman of flesh and blood, and others see it as Astarte, goddess of fertility, known from Canaanite and the Bible.”

Mazar further noted that there’s a high probability that the figurine belonged to one of the area’s ancient residents, which at the time, had been ruled by the central government of Egyptian pharaohs.