Israel has announced that it will exhibit ancient Egyptian jewelry and antiquities which were discovered during excavations in Palestine at the Israel Museum in September.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv said Monday that the museum will display the antiquities in a special exhibition on the relations between ancient Egypt and Canaan (the old name of Palestine in the second millennium BC) under the title of “Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story.”
The artifacts include two sphinxes that were found two years ago in Tel Hazor, close to the Sea of Galilee and the Syrian border. The first sphinx is 35 centimeters long, while only the feet of the second, which is two meters long, were found.
The newspaper quoted Dr. Eran Arie of the Israel Museum as saying that gifts were a key part of economic and political relations 3,500 years ago. It also said that the 400 documents that were discovered in Akhenaten’s palace in Tell El-Amarna in the 19th century include letters exchanged between the rulers of Canaan and Egypt. One of those letters was sent by the king of Babylon to Tutankhamun, in which he wrote: “My grandfathers and your grandfathers exchanged gifts and neither of them ever rejected a request from the other.”
There are also 250 lines from a letter that describe the type of gifts the kings exchanged, including gold perfume bottles, gold knives, gold bracelets, a large boat, gilded beds, gold cups, silver plates and ivory combs.
Egypt ruled Canaan at that time, which included Palestine, Lebanon and southern Syria, and Egyptian artifacts were discovered in the ancient cities of Acre, Hazor, Megiddo, Lachish and Kiryat Gat.
According to Dr. Arie, while some of those artifacts were part of the trade, others were gifts. “There are rare pieces made of a material called Egyptian blue, a color that does not exist in nature,” he said.
He added that the two-meter sphinx is of King Menkaure, builder of the third pyramid, and that it was sculpted from a very heavy stone and brought to Canaan in 1,300 BC, after having remained in Egypt for more than a thousand years. He was not able to find an explanation for this move.
“Perhaps the Egyptians did not think highly of the rulers of Canaan and sent them their old statues because they would not know how old they were,” said Dr. Arie. “Or perhaps they thought highly of them and therefore sent them old valuable statues.”
Dr. Arie will also present a sword sickle, which was buried with its owner to use in the afterlife. It looks like the sword sickle that was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen which is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The paper said that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave a replica of the sword sickle to President Sadat in Cairo in 1979, and that he wrote on it: “So that war is not waged again.”
Ali Ahmed of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has said that if those artifacts are proven to have been smuggled out of Egypt, the Egyptian government will claim them.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm