A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Possible 400-Year-Old Ritual Objects From Egypt Identified
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—According to an i24 News report, Itamar Taxel of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Nitzan Amitai-Preiss of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem analyzed a collection of 400-year-old artifacts unearthed near the Red Sea in the 1990s. The site where the objects were discovered was situated near the Darb al-Hajj Road, which ran from Cairo, through the Sinai Peninsula, and into the Arabian Peninsula and the pilgrimage city of Mecca. This road was in use from about the seventh century A.D. into the nineteenth century. The artifacts include fragments of clay rattles, possible miniature votive incense altars, a figurine of a woman or goddess with raised hands, an animal figurine, and colored quartz pebbles. Taxel and Amitai-Preiss suggest that these objects originated in Egypt and were used by pilgrims to ward off the evil eye and heal diseases on their journey. This is the first time that such a large assemblage of ritual objects of this kind has been found, and it is even more unique at a temporary site and not a permanent settlement, the researchers explained. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World. To read about a rare 3,300-year-old clay coffin unearthed in Israel, go to "Egyptian Style in Ancient Canaan."
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