Thursday, July 1, 2010

So who is the woman on the linchpin of a Bronze Age chariot?

From the Universit of Haifa
Archaeological mystery solved
Published by Editor at 10:49 am under Press Releases
July 1, 2010

A 3,200-year-old round bronze tablet with a carved face of a woman, found at the El-ahwat excavation site near Katzir in central Israel, is part of a linchpin that held the wheel of a battle chariot in place. This was revealed by scientist Oren Cohen of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. “Such an identification reinforces the claim that a high-ranking Egyptian or local ruler was based at this location, and is likely to support the theory that the site is Harosheth Haggoyim, the home town of Sisera, as mentioned in Judges 4-5,” says Prof. Zertal.

The El-ahwat site, near Nahal ‘Iron, was exposed by a cooperative delegation excavating there during 1993-2000 from the Universities of Haifa and Cagliari (Sardinia), headed by Prof. Zertal. The excavated city has been dated back to the end of the Bronze Age and early Iron Age (13th-12th centuries B.C.E.). The city’s uniqueness - its fortifications, passageways in the walls, and rounded huts - made it foreign amidst the Canaanite landscape. Prof. Zertal has proposed that based on these unusual features, the site may have been home to the Shardana tribe of the Sea-Peoples, who, according to some researchers, lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, Sisera’s capital city. The city is mentioned in the Bible’s narratives as Sisera’s capital, and it was from there that the army of chariots set out to fight the Israelites, who were being led by Deborah the prophetess and Barak, son of Avinoam. The full excavation and its conclusions have been summarized in Prof. Zertal’s book “Sisera’s Secret, A Journey following the Sea-Peoples and the Song of Deborah” (Dvir, Tel Aviv, 2010 [Hebrew]).

One of the objects uncovered at the site remained masked in mystery. The round, bronze tablet, about 2 cm. in diameter and 5 mm. thick, was found in a structure identified as the “Governor’s House”. The object features a carved face of a woman wearing a cap and earrings shaped as chariot wheels. When uncovered in 1997, it was already clear that the tablet was the broken end of an elongated object, but Mr. Cohen, who included the tablet in the final report of the excavations, did not manage to find its parallel in any other archaeological discoveries.

Now, 13 years later, the mystery has been solved. When carrying out a scrutinizing study of ancient Egyptian reliefs depicting chariot battles, Mr. Cohen discerned a unique decoration: the bronze linchpins fastening the chariot wheels were decorated with people’s faces - of captives, foreigners and enemies of Egypt. He also noticed that these decorations characterized those chariots that were used by royalty and distinguished people.

“This identification enhances the historical and archaeological value of the site and proves that chariots belonging to high-ranking individuals were found there. It provides support for the possibility, which has not yet been definitively established, that this was Sisera’s city of residence and that it was from there that the chariots set out on their way to the battle against the Israelite tribes, located between the ancient sites of Taanach and Megiddo,” Prof. Zertal concludes.
Okay, darlings, I'm tired tonight and I'm in a real bitchy mood.  First of all, I'm not at all sure this is a depiction of a female.  I do not, frankly, see "earrings in the shape of chariot wheels" on this figure.  I see big ears, which are usually the domain of males.  I also see crossed arms under the chin and closed fists, rather like the classic figure of a deceased Egyptian depicted on the outside of a cartonnage or an outer coffin in richer and older burials.  Did the Sea Peoples bury their dead in an identical fashion to the ancient Egyptians?

If this is a female head, how do we know that it is Egyptian and not "Sea Peoples?"  What history tells us at present is that the Egptians were plagued by invasives waves of "Sea Peoples" the same as everyone else in the area!  If this linchpin is Egyptian, what the hell was it doing there in what, I believe, the article suggests was a scene of a battle between Sea Peoples and Caananites?  What is the author suggesting? 

A separate inquiry: What evidence is there that this linchpin depicts "captives, foreigners and enemies of Egypt?"  I don't know much about the Sea Peoples, but if this linchpin was from an Egyptian chariot of the period, how does the author know for sure that it was not depicting the head of an Egyptian female diety? 

Think about it - if you were going into battle in a fragile battle chariot bouncing over rocky desert terrain pulled by a team of horses at full gallop, the bain of eight-spoked wheels and designed-for-speed chariot chassies, would you rather have a figurative head of an "enemy" holding your wheels together, or the figurative head of a favored goddess or god holding your wheels together?

1 comment:

kalyan97 said...


See details and hypothesis on Sea-peoples' identity at:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...