A rare find in southern Israel has illuminated Egypt’s ancient presence in the area.
In a find that has taken the field by surprise, Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the 3,200-year-old remains of a pregnant woman at the ancient copper mines in southern Israel’s Timna Valley.
“It is very rare to find human remains in Timna, and it is the first time we found a woman,” Tel Aviv University archaeologist Erez Ben-Yosef, who has led a team at the excavation site since 2012, told Haaretz.
According to archaeologists, the woman was in the first trimester of her pregnancy when she died and was buried near an ancient Egyptian temple, close to what archaeologists later named “King Solomon’s Mines,” where it is believed that the site was controlled by the biblical king.
The woman, who anthropologists believe was likely in her 20s, was found with two tiny glass beads that likely link the body to the Egyptian temple. The temple, which was dedicated to the goddess Hathor, is believed to have been used from the 13th to 12th centuries B.C.E, when the area was under Egyptian control.
The beads “could indicate that she was an Egyptian woman who had traveled there to be a cultic singer or musician for the goddess Hathor,” suggested Deborah Sweeney, an Egyptologist at Tel Aviv University, Haaretz reported.
At the same time, archaeologists expressed surprise that they uncovered human remains at all, as it was the first time they found such remains since 1964.
“There are no water sources in Timna and it is very inhospitable, so no one ever settled there permanently,” Ben-Yosef said. “Home was close to water sources, and people only came for brief expeditions during the winter to mine copper.”