Archaeologists in Israel have made an amazing discovery from 6,000 years ago. While excavating an ancient site near Beer Sheva, they found pieces of a small ivory container from elephant tusks.

This container is very rare because it is one of the first ever found from this early time period in the region.

The pieces of the ivory container were uncovered in 2020 and archaeologists carefully brought the pieces to a lab to study and restore them. Through a complicated process, they were able to piece the container back together.

Archaeologists remove the plates
Archaeologists remove the plates. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

This Thursday, the restored ivory container will be shown to the public for the first time and experts will present their latest findings from excavations of this ancient prehistoric period.

The site where the container was found is called Horbat Raqiq. It has underground spaces dug into the soil. During the last days of the excavation, one archaeologist spotted the edge of a container made of basalt rock, then they expanded the excavation and uncovered three large containers.

Two were nested inside each other and the third was placed on top like a lid. When they removed the top container, they discovered the bottom one was full of dirt with broken pieces of ivory inside.

The plates as they were found
The plates as they were found. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

The way the containers were arranged shows the ivory container, which was already broken in ancient times, was clearly buried on purpose.

This suggests it was very important to the people back then because containers were placed in a very specific, carefully planned way. Experts usually think broken figurines and containers buried like this were part of ancient religious ceremonies.

The ivory container is about 8 inches in diameter. It is beautifully crafted with an exceptional design with small matching handles that are symmetrically placed around its neck and lower body.

The small ivory vessel
The small ivory vessel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Restoring such a delicate ancient object made of ivory was an extremely complex process that required a lot of patience.

One question is whether the finished container was brought to the site, or if just the raw ivory was brought and a local craftsman made it.

Either way, it reveals the high skill of the ancient people who lived there in working ivory and future tests may even tell us where the ivory originally came from.


Sources

Israel Antiquities Authority


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