Elite Canaanite Burial Discovered in the Jezreel Valley

Bible and archaeology news

LBA coffin Jezreel

IAA archaeologists have discovered a 3,300-year-old anthropoid coffin with Egyptianizing features belonging to a wealthy Canaanite near Tel Shadud in the Jezreel Valley. Photo: Dan Kirzner, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced the discovery of a 3,300-year-old anthropoid coffin with Egyptianizing features near Tel Shadud in the Jezreel Valley. The excavation was led by IAA archaeologists Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri.

The find dates to a time when Egypt ruled Canaan. As explained by Carolyn R. Higginbotham in “The Egyptianizing of Canaan” in the May/June 1998 issue of BAR, from the Late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age, Egypt had a profound influence on the material culture of Canaan:

Since the discovery of the Amarna letters, archaeologists have also unearthed mounds of artifacts in Egypt and Canaan, dating to the late second millennium B.C.E., which make it clear that life in Ramesside Canaan was markedly different from that in the preceding Amarna age. In short, during the Ramesside period, the material culture of the Canaanite lowlands began to show conspicuous Egyptian influence. True, during the Amarna age, Egyptian artifacts were present in the archaeological record of Canaan. But by the 13th century B.C.E. (Late Bronze Age IIB, which corresponds roughly to the XIXth Dynasty of Egypt), the amount of Egyptian-style objects had increased significantly at Canaanite sites. Egyptian-style artifacts are similarly prevalent at Iron Age IA (between about 1200 and 1150 B.C.E.) sites; thereafter, these kinds of objects decline in frequency.


The third edition of the Biblical Archaeology Society’s widely-acclaimed Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Destruction of the Temple serves as an authoritative history of ancient Israel. Written by the world’s foremost Biblical scholars and archaeologists, each chapter has been updated and expanded to incorporate more than a decade’s worth of outstanding new discoveries and fresh scholarly perspectives.

LBA coffin Jezreel detail

Detail of the coffin from Tel Shadud after cleaning. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The excavation at Tel Shadud revealed a 13th-century B.C.E. cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoid lid buried alongside a number of storage vessels.

“As was the custom, it seems these [pots] were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife,” said the Tel Shadud archaeologists in an IAA press release.

The excavators believe that the burial belonged to an elite Canaanite individual who served the Egyptian government or imitated Egyptian burial customs. Among the rare finds discovered with the skeleton of an adult in the coffin was a gold signet ring bearing an Egyptian scarab seal. Inscribed on the seal is the name of Pharaoh Seti I, who was the father of Ramesses II. Other grave goods include a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze.

Discovered near the coffin were the graves of two men and two women who may have been family members.

Read the press release from the IAA.

Read about a rare Egyptian sphinx fragment discovered at Hazor in Bible History Daily.


Learn more about Canaan under the Egyptians in the BAS Library:

Carolyn R. Higginbotham, “The Egyptianizing of Canaan,” Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1998.

Peter van der Veen, “When Pharaohs Ruled Jerusalem,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2013.

Amnon Ben-Tor, “Who Destroyed Canaanite Hazor?” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2013.

Avraham Faust, “How Did Israel Become a People?” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2009.

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  • Paul says

    “Philistines out of Caphtor” Amos 9:7

  • Varghese says

    Paul vs. Bible! Let us see what the bible has to say about who Philistines are : “…Egypt fathered the….. Casluhites from which came the Philistines…” — Genesis 10:13-14

  • Paul says

    Actually, this was before the arrival of the Phillistines from which the term ‘Palestine’ is derived. After the arrival of the Phillistines along the coast of the southern Levant, the route from Egypt into Canaan that was called “the way of Horus” since earliest times became “the way of the land of the Phillistines” (Exodus 13:17). The Pharaoh Seti I began the reconquest of Canaan (which the Egyptians regarded as comprising all of western Syria-Palestine) in his first year, (according to relief inscriptions on the northern wall of the hypostyle hall in Karnak) after a period of weakened Egyptian influence in the region. Apparently tribes of Shashu had migrated from the Trans-Jordan region and were settled in the Negev and northern Sinai. Seti I encountered these Shasu on the way to the fortress of Pekanan (Canaan), which was probably in Gaza (a boundary also mentioned in Genesis 10:19 as delineating Canaan proper).
    I still have this article that appeared in the New York Times (Sept. 4, 1990) entitled “Battle Scene on Egyptian Temple May Be Earliest View of Israelites” by John Noble Wilford. According to this article, the early Israelites lived in the central hill country far from the fortified cities toward the west. Among the graphic scenes of battle depicting Seti I’s campaigns, there is one in which their is no fortress where a battle is fought in open country. Bearded men in long robes wearing headbands are shown being trampled by chariot horses:
    “The battle scene that Mr. Yurco says is ‘by far the earliest visual portrayal of Israelites ever discovered’ shows the people wearing ankle-length cloaks, the same style as the Canaanites and not the short kilts and turbans of the Shashu, nomadic people that many scholars had associated with the origin of Israel.”
    Captive princes were offered by Seti I as human sacrifice to the god Amun, so it’s no wonder the Israelites shared the aspirations of the Canaanites for autonomy from Egyptian dominance, as we see in the Song of Moses with the defeat of Egyptian chariotry:
    “The foe said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire shall have its fill of them. I will bare my sword – my desire shall have its fill of them'” (Exodus 15:9).
    Compare with the scene at Karnak of Seti I returning from his campaign:
    “His majesty kills them all at one time, and leaves no heirs among them. He who is spared by his hand is a living prisoner, carried of to Egypt.”

  • Dr.Joseph says

    the Palastaine People traditions were like the Egyptions at that time

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