A mighty female may have ruled ancient Israeli city: Study

April 7th, 2009 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 7 (IANS) Recent excavations at Tel Beth-Shemesh in Israel have thrown up evidence that challenges the popular belief that all ancient rulers of the land were men.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) archaeologists Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman, have come by an unusual ceramic plaque of a goddess in female dress, suggesting that a mighty female “king” may have ruled the city.

Archaeologists said the new finds might turn the interpretation of pre-biblical history on its head. The people of the time were pagans who had a very elaborate religious system.

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 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.”

Around 1350 BC, 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, said a TAU release.

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