Gaza farmer finds stone statue of ancient Canaanite goddess dating back 4,500 years to late Bronze Age

The limestone head is estimated to be dated to around 2,500 B.C.

Emily Atkinson
Thursday 28 April 2022 01:04 BST
<p>The sculpture was found by a Palestinian farmer while working his land in the southern Gaza Strip</p>

The sculpture was found by a Palestinian farmer while working his land in the southern Gaza Strip

A farmer has discovered a stone statue of an ancient Canaanite goddess in the Gaza Strip dating back to the late Bronze Age.

According to Palestinian archaeologists, the head of the war goddess Anat dates back to 4,500 years.

Khan Younis, a Gazan farmer, unearthed the 22cm-high (8.7 in) statue while digging his land in the south of the strip.

The carving appears shows the face of the major northwest Semitic goddess wearing a serpent crown.

Nidal Abu Eid, the farmer who discovered the head while cultivating his field, told the BBC: “We found it by chance. It was muddy and we washed it with water.

“We realised that it was a precious thing, but we didn’t know it was of such great archaeological value.

“We thank God, and we are proud that it stayed in our land, in Palestine, since the Canaanite times.”

The statue of the goddess is now on display in Qasr al-Basha, a historic building in the Old City of Gaza that serves as a museum.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the limestone head is estimated to be dated to around 2,500 B.C.

The limestone head is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess ‘Anat’

Jamal Abu Rida of the Hamas-run ministry said the statue was “resistant against time” when unveiling the artefact at a press conference on Tuesday,

He said the atrefact, which had been carefully examined by experts, made a political point.

“Such discoveries prove that Palestine has civilisation and history, and no-one can deny or falsify this history,” he said.

“This is the Palestinian people and their ancient Canaanite civilisation.”

An employee of the ministry of tourism and antiquities holds the rare 4,500-year-old stone sculpture

It comes as tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have risen following a string of deadly attacks inside Israel, arrest raids in the West Bank, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, and the first rocket attacks into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in months.

On Monday, Israel said it would reopen its border crossing with the Gaza Strip to Palestinian workers after closing it for several days following rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave.

COGAT, the Israeli military body coordinating civilian affairs in Gaza, said the opening of the Erez Crossing on Tuesday would be conditioned “on the maintenance of a stable security situation in the area.”

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