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2,500-Year-Old Find Gives Rare Insight into Women's Roles in Ancient Israel

03-10-2016
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists recently discovered two rare ancient seals in the City of David in Jerusalem.

Archaeologists found the seals inside a 2,500-year-old building.
 
“Inside this building as a result of very gentle work that include also sifting of the finds, sifting of the airs in order to find all the tiny artifacts, we discovered among other stuff two Hebrew seals; one with the name of a man, Sa‘aryahu ben Shabenyahu and another one with the name of a woman, Elihana bat Gaelm,” IAA archaeologist Yana Tchekhanovetes told CBN News.

“We are standing in the heart of ancient Jerusalem, [the] so-called City of David, the term that the Bible use for this place. The city started here and developed on a very small square here in this place for thousands of years,” Tchekhanovetes explained.

“We have 10 historical periods here starting from the ninth century BC – just a hundred years later than the kingdom[s] of David and Solomon … And we have many more younger, I would say, less ancient finds, including Hasmonean, Hellenistic period, Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic,” she explained. “And each period excavated here reveals the most interesting and most exciting finds.”
 
Tchekhanovetes says it’s extremely rare to find the name of a woman on a seal.

“It’s very exciting to know that in ancient times were strong woman in Jerusalem living here. Even though we don’t have any idea who was this lady and why she deserved such a special right in this society,” she continued.

“The woman’s status in the ancient Near East usually wasn’t that high. That’s why it’s so interesting to find a seal signed by a woman name.

“I think that it’s very inspiring because we know that in this society, we know that we know as a man’s world …in ancient near east, such a long time ago, even then there were women who were capable to run their own independent life,” Tchekhanovetes said.
 
Some feel Elihana might have been like the woman described in the Book of Proverbs, where it says, “She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands….Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (Proverbs 31:13, 23)

Tchekhanovetes says uncovering a name brings the past and its people to life.

“When you have a name of the person, it turning from something very abstract to something very individual.  So we know that they were here by names.  I think it’s amazing.  And that it’s a woman, I think it’s very inspiring,” she said.

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