A 74-year-old woman strolling on Israel’s Palmahim beach south of Tel Aviv found a 3,000-year-old figurine of an Egyptian goddess, which she turned over to grateful archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority. Ms. Lydia Marner of Lod spotted the clay-made artifact while walking with her husband on the national park’s beaches. Understanding she had stumbled upon something significant, she researched and consulted friends who were knowledgeable in archeology. She then posted a photo of the figurine on Facebook, where it caught the attention of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Inspectors Dror Citron and Idan Horn were sent out to examine the object, which they identified as a figure of Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of love and fertility.
Hathor was a revered deity in ancient Egypt, where she held a high position as the sun goddess and one of their most powerful gods. The experts from the IAA determined that despite its worn appearance, the figurine was unmistakably a representation of Hathor based on her characteristic ox horn-shaped hairstyle.
The find is not only a rare archaeological treasure but also an invaluable source of information about the life of the ancient Egyptians in this part of the world. The figurine was a model of Hathor used for ritual purposes. As the IAA reports, it was customary in ancient Egypt to place ritual figurines around households to attract good fortune and success.
As for the statue’s unusual features, it is possible that it was meant to be a companion of a dead person in the afterlife and acted as a protector from evil forces. This might explain why it has two left hands with their thumbs cut off. Another possibility is that it was a vessel or a pot.
A terracotta figurine is precious since it can be cleaned and restored relatively quickly. It is also likely to have been buried and thus preserved under the sand for many years, contributing to its well-preserved state.
Ms. Marner was not allowed to keep the figurine, as according to Israeli law, all ancient treasures are the rightful property of the IAA. The agency encourages those with archaeological objects at home to turn them over. It has recently launched a campaign called “Return them with a click” to help people who have treasures in their possession, regardless of how they came into their ownership, does just that. It also promotes education on archaeology and current state cultural heritage laws and regulations, as well as helping resolve disputes involving development, scientific research, or the respectful treatment of archaeological resources.