Schoolgirl makes rare discovery on Temple Mount Sifting Project
In 2012, schoolgirl Neshama Spielman participated in the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park with her family. The Sifting Project, which sifts and analyzes the dirt illicitly removed from the Temple Mount by the Waqf in 1999, is led by Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University and welcomes volunteers of all ages and from all around the world. And how fortunate that Neshama joined the project, for she found a rare amulet bearing the name of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, who brought Canaan under Egyptian control in the 15th century B.C.E.
According to The Times of Israel, Neshama made this once-in-a-lifetime find four years ago, when she was just eight years old. The Temple Mount Sifting Project has recently announced the discovery after the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted research on the amulet.
“While I was sifting, I came across a piece of pottery that was different from others I had seen, and I immediately thought that maybe I had found something special,” said Neshama in the Temple Mount Sifting Project announcement. “It’s amazing to find something thousands of years old from ancient Egypt all the way here in Jerusalem!”
In the free eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.
The partially preserved amulet (its bottom is missing) is shaped like a pendant and measures less than an inch wide and a quarter of an inch thick. Made of clay, the pendant has a hole at the top where a string could be inserted to make a necklace. The front side of the pendant displays the cartouche of Thutmose III—an oval frame that encircles the name of the pharaoh in hieroglyphs. The symbol of an eye is depicted above the cartouche, and to the right of the cartouche is the symbol of a cobra.
The sixth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty in the New Kingdom of Egypt, Thutmose III reigned from c. 1479 to 1425 B.C.E. Through his military campaigns in the Near East and Middle East, Thutmose III brought Canaan under Egyptian rule. The Egyptian pharaoh boasted of his conquests, including a decisive victory at Megiddo, on the walls of the Temple of Amun at Karnak. Egypt’s authority over Canaan lasted for the next 200 years, which may explain why the amulet with the cartouche of Thutmose III was found in Jerusalem.
“The amulet may have been buried in earth brought to the Temple Mount to be used as fill for the expansion of the Mount in Second Temple period,” writes Zachi Dvira in the Temple Mount Sifting Project announcement. “This earth probably originated in the slopes of the Kidron Valley near the Temple Mount, an area which contained tombs of the Late Bronze Age (1550–1150 B.C.E.).”
Neshama Spielman’s discovery represents the first time an amulet bearing the name of Thutmose III has been found in Jerusalem. The amulet is identical to one found in 1978 in Nahal Iron, a site in northern Israel.
Sifting Antiquity on the Temple Mount Sifting Project
What the Temple Mount Floor Looked Like
by Frankie Snyder, Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira
As published in Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2016
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