Prize Find: An Iron Age Amulet from the Galilee

By Rami Arav

Sidebar to: Between a Rock and a High Place

Excavating at Bethsaida, just north of the Sea of Galilee, we uncovered an extremely beautiful and rare find last summer—a small statuette of the Egyptian god Pataekos, a protective deity. Although images of Pataekos are not uncommon finds on archaeological digs, the delicate rendering of the Bethsaida statuette makes it highly unusual.

The 2.4-inch figurine depicts Pataekos as a male dwarf with a large head, protruding ears, bulbous abdomen, deep navel and fat, curved legs. He wears a tightly fitting cap and an elaborate beaded necklace and carries two knives or short swords. The figurine probably once stood on a crocodile, as Pataekos often appears, but a sharp cut removed the back of the statuette, its left arm and leg, and its original base. Sculpted of argilite, a stone composed primarily of compacted clay, the figurine was once coated with a turquoise Egyptian glaze called faience. (Traces of the glaze appear on the statue’s neck, arm and upper leg.)

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