Biblical 'Thinker' Dug Up In Israel Dates From The Time Of Abraham And Isaac

Conservationist Elisheva Kamaisky shows journalists the 4,000-year-old statuette discovered on a dig in IsraelReuters

This little "thinker" from the time of the first books of the Bible would have had a lot to ponder.

He was carved roughly 2,000 years before the birth of Christ, in Yehud, an ancient city in Israel.

At about the same time this jug and its detailed little carving were being made, according to the Bible, Abraham and Sarah were having their son, Isaac.

When he grew up, Isaac married Rebekah and they had Jacob and his brother Esau.

The 4,000-year-old jug was unveiled this week by the  Israel Antiquities Authority in a student archaeological dig in the contemporary city of Yehud.

The Middle Bronze Age sculpture was discovered alongside daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones and what are thought to be the bones of a donkey. 

Excavation director Gilad Itach said in a press released issued by the authority: "It seems that these objects are funerary offerings that were buried in honour of an important member of the ancient community.

"It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world. To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country".  

He said the ceramic pot, about 18 cm high, was unlike anything previously discovered. The pot was made first and then the figure added.

"The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000 year old sculpture is extremely impressive. The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture. One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection. It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman."

The high school students also found a churn used in the Chalcolithic period for making butter.

Efrat Zilber, supervisor responsible for the Land of Israel and Archaeology matriculation stream, said: "The archaeological excavations provide an opportunity for an intensive and direct experience that connects the pupils with our country's past. An experiential learning experience involving research methods employed in archaeology takes place while revealing the artifacts. The pupils meet experts in a variety of fields who share their knowledge with them, enrich the pupils while also enriching their world."

Ronnie Krisher, a pupil from Roeh religious girls high school in Ramat Gan, said: "Suddenly I saw many archaeologists and important people arriving who were examining and admiring something that was uncovered in the ground.

"They immediately called all of us to look at the amazing statuette and explained to us that this is an extremely rare discovery and one that is not encountered every day. It is exciting to be part of an excavation whose artefacts will be displayed in the museum."