Hikers in northern Israel got a surprise when one walker spotted an glittering ancient artifact. Erez Avrahamov was enjoying a day out at the Tabor Nature Reserve when something caught his eye on the ground.

At first I thought it was just a stone, but when I picked it up I could see it was engraved, said Avrahamov. Upon closer inspection, he realized it depicted a mythical creature.

Avrahamov contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority about his discovery. Archaeologist Nir Distelfeld said when he took the call, I could hear the excitement in Erez’s voice as he described the engraving on the other side. Distelfeld arranged to have photos sent to experts for analysis.

Professor Othmar Keel of the University of Fribourg identified the image as a griffin, confirming it dated to around the 8th century BCE. Distelfeld placed the find site as the base of Tel Rekhesh, an important archaeological site in the region. The tells have been linked to the ancient city of Anaharat mentioned in the Bible.

To get more context, archaeologist Itzik Paz who excavated Tel Rekhesh examined the discovery. He called it one of the most important seals found here.

The site contained a large fortress from the Iron Age, around 700-600 BCE. At that time, the powerful Assyrian Empire controlled the area after destroying the Kingdom of Israel.

According to Paz, This beetle seal gives us a glimpse into the Assyrian administration that was here. Its griffin image fits artistic styles of the period. If we can precisely date this seal, it could shed light on Assyrian presence at this strategic site, added Paz.

Scarab seals like this were a common way to impress ownership or identity in antiquity, known since 4000 BCE. Typically crafted from soft stones and sometimes engraved glazes, they depicted symbols laden with religious and cultural meaning for Egyptians and other ancient peoples.

This rare beetle seal discovery promises fresh clues about the rulers who occupied this zone over 2500 years ago.


Israel Antiquities Authority

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