Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Archaeologists Discover 3,300-Year-Old Tomb in Israel

The tomb contained an Egyptian coffin, which researchers note may have been the final resting place of King Seti I of Egypt, father of Ramesses II

By: Daniel Koren

Published: April 10th, 2014 in News » Israel

It seems every day another archaeological discovery is made in Israel. A land brimming in historical significance, it seems likely that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) will always have something on their plate.

The latest find is notably remarkable, with the IAA announcing the discovery of a tomb, which contains bronze and ceramic artifacts, and a ceramic coffin, from the Bronze Age, some 3,300 years ago. Israeli archaeologists discovered the tomb in Jezreel Valley last month, the IAA reported Wednesday.

Researchers found, inside the tomb, a small golden scarab inscribed with the name King Seti I of Egypt, one of the most notorious leaders of the Nile, who is believed to be the father of Ramesses II, the pharaoh in the story of Exodus. While much of the other items in the grave suggest that the buried was Egyptian, there is also must evidence that points to Canaanite descent, leading researchers somewhat baffled.

The directors who led the excavation efforts, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the IAA, said that the discovery included “a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoid lid surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.”

The directors noted that they also found a bronze bowl and dagger, which are evocative of Canaanite design, not Egyptian.

However, the lid of the coffin resembles popular Egyptian design, and after finding a body of a man inside the coffin (alongside the golden scarab that reads the name King Seti I), it’s been harder for them to determine whether it was indeed the infamous ruler of the Nile.

King Seti I ruled the Egyptian empire from 1290 – 1279 BCE. Many researchers today believe he was one of the most important Egyptian Kings of the time, even more than his son Ramesses II.

The discovered coffin is indeed a rare find, notes Be’eri, adding that no such coffin has been discovered in Israel for over half a century. Though containing items that bare Canaanite design, the coffin itself is notably different than other Canaanite coffins from that period of time.

The IAA are currently undergoing further research to discover if the tomb was in fact Canaanite or Egyptian, though Be’eri explains that the man inside the coffin was likely Canaanite, as Egyptians buried their dead in the soil. They will be doing research on his remains as well to help them come to a conclusion.

“Canaanites… were not accustomed to burying themselves in coffins of this sort. The Canaanite style of burial is different,” said Be’eri, noting that the man was buried in ‘Egyptian style’. “Completeness of the body is a basic thing in Egyptian burial, and that’s because [they believed] the soul of the dead… is meant to leave the body after death.”

Be’eri says that the findings are significant, as they show “the presence or very strong cultural influence of Egypt in the Land of Israel during the second millennium BCE, probably amid Canaanite society or in the Canaanite cities that dominated the Jezreel Valley.”


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