Archaeology: 3,000-Year-Old Sculpture Depicts a Biblical King, but Which One?
Abel Beth: June 13, 2018. A team of archaeologists digging through a site in Israel has uncovered a two-inch carving of a head that likely depicts a biblical king, although experts aren’t sure which one it is.
The tiny sculpture is around 3,000 years old and dates to the 9th century BC – around the time when Israel was split into two kingdoms. It was found at the biblical site of Abel Beth Maacah -- which is mentioned in the Bible at least three times (1 Kings 15:20, 2 Kings 15:29 and 2 Samuel 20:15) – by teams from Azusa Pacific University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The head is now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Abel Beth Maacah was at the crossroads of three kingdoms: Israel, Tyre and Aram-Damascus.
“Despite the head’s small and innocuous appearance, it provides us with a unique opportunity to gaze into the eyes of a famous person from the past; a past enshrined in the Book of Ages,” said Robert Mullins, lead archaeologist at the site and a professor at Azusa Pacific. “Given that the head was found in a city that sat on the border of three different ancient kingdoms, we do not know whether it depicts the likes of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre, rulers known from the Bible and other sources. The head represents a royal enigma.”
The head measures 2.2 by 2 inches and features “glossy black tresses combed back from a headband painted in yellow and black and a manicured beard,” according to an Azusa Pacific press release.
“His almond-shaped eyes and pupils are lined in black and the pursed lips give him a look that is part pensive, part stern,” it reads. “The glazed surface is tinted light green due to the addition of copper to the quartz paste. Its elegant style indicates that the man was a distinguished personage, probably a king. By all appearances, the head appears to have broken off from the body of a figurine that stood 8-10 inches high.”