Thanks to all who participated in the “What is it?” artifact discussion! This week’s was a challenge! Read about the Philistine linchpin below, and explore www.biblicalarchaeology.org for more Biblical Archaeology content!
A. Egyptian hairpin
B. Assyrian back scratcher
C. Roman scepter
D. Philistine linchpin
E. Edomite ceremonial tent stake
Answer: (D) Philistine linchpin
Discovered at the Philistine site of Ashkelon, this bronze linchpin is one of only a handful of ancient chariot fittings to have been discovered in Israel. The 7-inch-long pin would have been placed through a small hole located between the chariot’s wheel and the end of the axle. Once lashed into place (using a leather cord strung through the hole in the head of the pin), the pin served the crucial function of preventing the wheel from flying off when the chariot was in motion.
Decorating the upper half of the linchpin from the 11th century B.C.E. is the head and torso of a human-like figure with bulging eyes, a prominent curved nose and an elaborate mushroom-shaped headdress. The figure’s long neck is outfitted with what may be a hanging beaded necklace, or perhaps a coat of armor. Ashkelon excavator Lawrence Stager has noted the close similarities between the face and torso of the pin and the numerous long-necked Ashdoda figurines found in Iron Age Philistia, and believes the pin likely depicts a leading Philistine goddess. The Philistines, like their Canaanite and Egyptian neighbors who used similarly decorated linchpins, believed that such divine images would protect their chariots and chariot teams from enemy attack.
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