… actually, I’m Walter.”

In lieu of time travel and ancient blogs, much of what we learn about pre-modern history is a jigsaw puzzle that is continuously getting pieced together by archaeologists and historians with more and more pieces turning up as they go. Now Israeli archaeologists have discovered and interpreted another jigsaw piece:

The legend is that the great rulers of Canaan, the ancient land of Israel, were all men. But a recent dig by Tel Aviv University archaeologists at Tel Beth-Shemesh uncovered possible evidence of a mysterious female ruler.

Tel Aviv University archaeologists Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations have uncovered an unusual ceramic plaque of a goddess in female dress, suggesting that a mighty female “king” may have ruled the city. If true, they say, the plaque would depict the only known female ruler of the region.

The plaque itself depicts a figure dressed as royal male figures and deities once appeared in Egyptian and Canaanite art. The figure’s hairstyle, though, is womanly and its bent arms are holding lotus flowers — attributes given to women. This plaque, art historians suggest, may be an artistic representation of the “Mistress of the Lionesses,” a female Canaanite ruler who was known to have sent distress letters to the Pharaoh in Egypt reporting unrest and destruction in her kingdom.

“We took this finding to an art historian who confirmed our hypothesis that the figure was a female,” says Dr. Lederman. “Obviously something very different was happening in this city. We may have found the ‘Mistress of the Lionesses’ who’d been sending letters from Canaan to Egypt. The destruction we uncovered at the site last summer, along with the plaque, may just be the key to the puzzle.”[Full article]

Curiously enough, a Yahoo news and a Google search revealed that this bit of news has so far mostly been picked up by science / research and English-language Arabic sites. What might be of interest is the suggestive annotation those Arabic news sites make, pointing out that the Mistress of the Lionesses ruled in Canaan pre-occupation. Too bad their target audience likely is not too familiar with Biblical scripture otherwise they’d know that that bit of info is nothing to theologically upset any Jews with.

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