Mysterious female “King” may have ruled Israel in ancient times

April 7th, 2009 - 12:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Tel Aviv, April 7 (ANI): A recent dig by Tel Aviv University archaeologists in Israel has uncovered evidence that a mysterious female ruler may have ruled the country in ancient times.

The legend is that the great rulers of Canaan, the ancient land of Israel, were all men.

But, Tel Aviv University archaeologists Professor 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,” said Dr. Lederman.

“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,” he added.

Around 1350 BCE, there was unrest in the region. Canaanite kings conveyed their fears via clay tablet letters to the Pharaoh in Egypt, requesting military help.

But, among all the correspondence by kings were two rare letters that stuck out among the 382 el Amarna tablets uncovered a few decades ago by Egyptian farmers.

The two letters came from a “Mistress of the Lionesses” in Canaan.

She wrote that bands of rough people and rebels had entered the region, and that her city might not be safe.

Because the el-Amarna tablets were found in Egypt rather than Canaan, historians have tried to trace the origin of the tablets.

A few years ago, Tel Aviv University’s Professor Nadav Naaman suggested that she might have ruled the city of Beth Shemesh. But there has been no proof until now.

The discovery of the plaque, and the evidence of destruction recorded in the el-Amarna tablets, could confirm that the woman depicted in the figurine was the mysterious “Mistress of the Lionesses” and ruled Canaanite Beth Shemesh. (ANI)

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