As Egypt Names New Leader, Israeli Archaeologists Discover Sphinx From Pharaoh Mycerinus

July 9, 2013 12:59 pm 0 comments
Base of a Sphinx statue found by Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologists at the excavations at Tel Hazor, Israel, north of the Sea of Galilee. A hieroglyphic inscription ties the Sphinx to an Egyptian king who was one of the builders of the Giza pyramids, approximately 2500 BCE. The statue is unique in that it is the only one anywhere bearing the pharaoh's name. Photo: Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman.

Base of a Sphinx statue found by Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologists at the excavations at Tel Hazor, Israel, north of the Sea of Galilee. A hieroglyphic inscription ties the Sphinx to an Egyptian king who was one of the builders of the Giza pyramids, approximately 2500 BCE. The statue is unique in that it is the only one anywhere bearing the pharaoh's name. Photo: Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman.

As modern Egypt named a new leader, Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday announced they have found a relic of an ancient Egyptian leader in Israel.

At a site in Tel Hazor National Park, north of the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem unearthed the feet from a unique Sphinx from Mycerinus, one of the pharaohs who built Giza.

As the only known Sphinx of Mycerinus discovered anywhere in the world – including in Egypt – the find at Hazor is an unexpected and important discovery. Moreover, it is the only piece of a royal Sphinx sculpture discovered in the entire Levant, the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.

The Hazor Excavations are headed by Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, the Yigael Yadin Professor in the Archaeology of Eretz Israel at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, a lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

Working with a team from the Institute of Archaeology, they discovered part of the Egyptian Sphinx, with a hieroglyphic inscription bearing the name of the Egyptian king Mycerinus, who ruled in the third millennium BCE, more than 4,000 years ago, and was one of the builders of the famous Giza pyramids.

Along with the king’s name, the hieroglyphic inscription includes the descriptor: “Beloved by the divine manifestation… that gave him eternal life.”

According to Prof. Ben-Tor and Dr. Zuckerman, this text indicates that the Sphinx probably originated in the ancient city of Heliopolis (the city of ‘On’ in the Bible), north of modern Cairo.

The Sphinx was discovered in the layer of Hazor that was destroyed during the 13th century BCE, at the entrance to the city palace. The find was approximately 50 cm long and the entire statue was probably 150 cm long and 500 cm high originally.

According to the archaeologists, it is unlikely that the Sphinx was brought to Hazor during the time of Mycerinus, since there is no record of any relationship between Egypt and Israel in the third millennium BCE.

More likely, the statue was brought to Israel in the second millennium BCE during the dynasty of the kings known as the Hyksos, who originated in Canaan.

It could also have arrived during the 15th to 13th centuries BCE, when Canaan was under Egyptian rule, as a gift from an Egyptian king to the king of Hazor, which was the most important city in the southern Levant at the time.

Hazor is the largest biblical-era site in Israel, covering some 200 acres, and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, because of its buried treasure.

Documents discovered at Hazor and at sites in Egypt and Iraq attest that Hazor maintained cultural and trade relations with both Egypt and Babylon. Artistic artifacts, including those imported to Hazor from near and far, have been unearthed at the site.

The population of Hazor in the second millennium BCE is estimated to have been about 20,000. Its size and strategic location on the route connecting Egypt and Babylon made it “the head of all those kingdoms” according to the biblical Book of Joshua (Joshua 11:10).

The city was destroyed in the 13th century BC. Following a gap of some 150 years, it was resettled in the 11th century BCE by the Israelites, opening the way to the conquest and settlement of the Israelites in Canaan. Hazor was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered in the days of Ahab and Jeroboam II, until its final destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE.

The Hebrew University began the Hazor excavation in the mid-1950s and continued them in the late 1960s. Excavations at the site were resumed in 1990 by Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, who was joined in 2006 by Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, as part of the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin.

The present excavation area is managed by Shlomit Becher, a doctoral student of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, and is sponsored by the Israel Exploration Society (IES) in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The Institute of Archaeology was founded in 1934 as the Department of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1967 it became the Institute of Archaeology.

Today the Institute is an independent research and teaching unit within the Faculty of Humanities, with a staff that provides administrative and scientific assistance as well as the technical facilities necessary to carry out its research projects. Academic programs include studies for B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in prehistoric, biblical and classical archaeology.

Ranked among the top academic and research institutions worldwide, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading university and premier research institution. Serving 23,000 students from 70 countries, the Hebrew University  produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and is ranked 12th worldwide in biotechnology patent filings and commercial development.

Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won seven Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal in the last decade. The Hebrew University was founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Chaim Weizmann. It is located on three campuses in Jerusalem and a fourth in Rehovot.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.