Bronze Age Figurine Resembles Rodin’s The Thinker

Bible and archaeology news


This 3,800-year-old clay jug with a figurine resembling French artist Rodin’s famed sculpture The Thinker was discovered in the Israeli town of Yehud. Photo: Clara Amit.

The figurine sits atop a clay jug in reflection, with one hand supporting its head and the other resting on its knees—just like Rodin’s The Thinker, observed several media reports. This extraordinary 3,800-year-old vessel was unearthed during excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the central Israeli town of Yehud.

The 7-inch-high jug, which dates to the Middle Bronze Age, was discovered with the participation of a group of high school students as part of an IAA Land of Israel and Archaeology program.

“The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost-4,000-year-old sculpture is extremely impressive,” remarked IAA excavation director Gilad Itach. “The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture.”

The jug was discovered along with other objects, including daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, and animal bones—sheep and what may be donkey bones. The IAA archaeologists believe these artifacts were buried with a member of the Middle Bronze Age settlement at Yehud.


A cast of Rodin’s The Thinker made 1904–1917 is featured at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Photo: Robin Ngo.

“It seems that these objects are funerary offerings that were buried in honor of an important member of the ancient community,” said Itach. “It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individual continued with him into the next world. To the best of my knowledge, such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country.”


The clay jug at the time of discovery in Yehud. Photo: EYECON Productions, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The archaeologists also discovered artifacts dating to the Chalcolithic period, c. 4000 B.C.E.: pits and shafts that held thousands of pottery fragments, flint and basalt tools, animal bones and a butter churn.

The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and ancient practices—from dining to makeup—throughout the Mediterranean world.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Early Bronze Age: Megiddo’s Great Temple and the Birth of Urban Culture in the Levant

Minoan Frescoes at Tel Kabri: Aegean Art in Bronze Age Israel

Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought


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  • Bill says

    Both reflect the value of and the need for substantial thought, don’t they. Some things never change.

  • Esther says

    so cute

  • Rob says

    When I was in government service as a programmer/analyst in Washington, someone brought in a small replica of the “Thinker”, and we all thought that it did, indeed look like a programmer puzzling over his latest assignment.

  • Jeanene S. says

    Well stated. I certainly agree.

  • David says

    That’s what I love about archaeology; technology changes, but human nature doesn’t. People who lived in Biblical,and even earlier, times were just like us. That’s why the stories still speak to us.

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