An ancient statue dating back to the late Bronze Age and depicting a naked standing woman has been discovered at the archaeological site of Tel Rehov, about 124km north of Jerusalem. The statue was found by a seven-year-old boy during his trip to the site, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
The 3,400-year-old clay figurine was prepared by pressing soft clay into a mould. Authorities did not disclose the dimensions of the figurine but it looks to be a tiny one, which fits well inside the palm.
Some experts argue that the small figurine represents Astarte, the celebrated goddess of fertility, sexuality and war in the 18th dynasty of ancient Egyptian kingdom. Astarte was also worshipped in Canaan, what is now Israel, during the era.
"Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh and blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible," Amihai Mazar, professor at Hebrew University who examined the artefact, said in a statement.
"It is typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th–13th centuries BCE. It is highly likely that the term trafim mentioned in the Bible indeed refers to figurines of this kind," he said.
Authorities said the woman's figurine should add to the understanding of the artistic and cultural influence of ancient Egyptian reigns in the region.
"Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs," Mazar, who is expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov, added.