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CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History


'Exceptional' woman's 2,500-year-old seal unearthed in Jerusalem
First Temple-era relic bearing name 'Elihana bat Gael' discovered near City of David; second seal, a man's, located in same area

Sceau Elihana bat Gael
A seal bearing the inscription: 'to Elihana bat Gael' (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Two 2,500-year-old seals — one belonging to an "exceptional" woman — were found outside of Jerusalem's Old City, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Monday in what it termed a rare discovery.
The first First Temple-era find, made of semiprecious stone and bearing the name "Elihana bat Gael," indicated the woman who owned the seal was affluent. The second seal, found in the same area, belonged to "Sa'aryahu ben Shabenyahu."
"Finding seals that bear names from the time of the First Temple is hardly a commonplace occurrence, and finding a seal that belonged to a woman is an even rarer phenomenon," the IAA said in a statement.
The "owner of the seal was exceptional compared to other women of the First Temple period: she had legal status which allowed her to conduct business and possess property," it said.
Archaeologists believe the building where the two seals were located — in what is now the Givati parking lot — served as an administrative center.

Fouilles archeo
A general view of the site. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

"The name Eliha is known from a contemporary Ammonite seal and is the feminine form of the name Eli, known from the Bible," said the IAA.
"Seals that belonged to women represent just a very small proportion of all the seals that have been discovered to date. This is because of the generally inferior economic status of women, apart from extraordinary instances such as this," said Dr. Hagai Misgav of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"Most of the women's seals that are known to us bear the name of the father rather than that of the husband. Here, as in other cases, this might indicate the relatively elevated status of Elihana, which depended on her original family, and not on her husband's family. It seems that Elihana maintained her right to property and financial independence even after her marriage and therefore her father's name was retained; however, we do not have sufficient information about the law in Judah during this period," he added.

Sceau 2
A seal bearing the inscription: 'to Sa'aryahu ben Shabenyahu' (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

wall first temple
The wall of the building from the First Temple period where the seals were found. According to the archaeologists an administrative center was probably located there during the First Temple period. (Courtesy/IAA)

Sceau Elihana bat Gael 2

A seal bearing the inscription: 'to Elihana bat Gael' (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Huge Canaanite burial ground found near Bethlehem, shows city thrived 4,200 years ago
Finds at cemetery, which was abandoned after the Assyrians conquered area from the Hebrew kings, cast new light on ancient burial practices
BY SUE SURKES March 7, 2016

tombes canaanites
The opening to two of the tombs at the Khalet al-Jam'a necropolis near the town of Bethlehem. Credit: ®ROSAPAJ - Sapienza University Rome

Archaeologists have discovered a massive Canaanite burial ground near Bethlehem, establishing for the first time that the city thrived 4,200 years ago, thanks to its strategic position between its ancient sister cities, Jerusalem and Hebron.
The necropolis, named Khalet al-Jam´a, contains more than 100 tombs, Haaretz reported Monday, dating from around 2200 BCE to 650 BCE.
Discovered by Italian and Palestinian archaeologists, the tombs were intended for generations of the same family, in a practice described in the bible as "lying down with one's forefathers." The tombs were carved into the soft limestone rock.
Although many of the tombs have been looted in the past or damaged by modern building, the archaeologists were able to retrieve fine bowls, jugs, lamps, Bronze Age weapons and scarabs — amulets mounted on rings — which, according to Lorenzo Nigro, head of the excavation and professor at Sapienza University of Rome, show the direct connection between the ruling class in southern Palestine and the Pharaonic court of 1750-1650 BCE in Avaris, in the Nile Delta.
During the Iron Age, burial practices changed and came more into line with those found typically in Jerusalem, the report said. Instead of piling bodies in, one after the other, individual bodies were laid on a shelf in a specially cut chamber, or in slots carved into the chamber walls.
Bethlehem came under the rule of the Hebrew kings of Judah as early as the 8th century BCE, and remained so into the 7th century BCE. The Bethlehem burial site was abandoned after the Assyrians conquered Judah and relocated its communities.