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Birdwatcher Spies Egyptian Scarab Seal at Dor

Birdwatcher Spies Egyptian Scarab Seal at Dor

Bible and archaeology news
Robin Ngo   • 05/04/2016 

The name of the scarab’s owner, his position, and ankh and djed symbols (representing eternal life and stability, respectively) are engraved on the Egyptian scarab seal. While the owner’s name hasn’t been deciphered yet, he is described on the scarab as an “overseer of the treasury.”

Birdwatcher Alexander Ternopolsky made a remarkable discovery one day at the archaeological site of Tel Dor on Israel’s Carmel Coast—not a bird, but a rare Egyptian scarab seal. The stone scarab—an ancient Egyptian object shaped like a scarab beetle—belonged to a high-ranking official of the 13th Dynasty (18th–17th centuries B.C.E.) in Middle Kingdom Egypt, according to a University of Haifa press release.

An ancient Egyptian scarab seal that belonged to a senior Egyptian official was recently found at the site of Dor on Israel’s Carmel Coast. Photo: Courtesy Tel Dor Excavations.

“Scarabs were very common objects in ancient Egypt, but the size and quality of this one, its owner’s high-ranking position, and the gold ring in which it is set all make this particular scarab a rare finding in our region,” said Ayelet Gilboa, Professor in the Department of Archeology at the University of Haifa, who directs the excavations at Tel Dor with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Professor Ilan Sharon. “[He was] probably the viceroy responsible for the royal treasury.”

Located about 19 miles south of Haifa, Dor was an important commercial port from the Late Bronze Age onward. Excavations at Tel Dor have uncovered a long range of occupation levels, including a Late Bronze Age Canaanite settlement, a Phoenician settlement, Iron Age Israelite and Assyrian administrative centers, a Hellenistic-period city and palace, and a Roman-period town.

Dor is mentioned in the Bible as one of the five cities in northern Canaan that banded together to resist invasion by the Israelites, led by Joshua (Joshua 11:1–2; 12:23). Additionally, the 11th-century B.C.E. Story of Wenamun, an Egyptian text describing a priest’s journey to the Canaanite/Phoenician coast to purchase Lebanese cedar trees at Byblos, references the Sikil settlement at Dor.