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Ancient Bronze Age Coffin With Skeleton, Scarab Discovered in Israel

The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced this week that it has uncovered a 3,300-year-old ceramic coffin containing a male skeleton and a scarab in the country's northern region.

Archaeologists said workers accidentally discovered the Bronze Era tomb while installing a natural gas pipeline through the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. The tomb contained ceramic pieces and a ceramic coffin containing the skeleton of a man. Next to the skeleton sat a scarab affixed to a ring that bore the name of Seti I, considered to be one of the most powerful pharaohs in Egypt during the Nineteenth Dynasty.

Seti I is the father of Ramesses II, believed by some to be the Pharaoh in the biblical story of the Exodus who drove the Israelites from Egypt.

According to excavation directors Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be'eri, archaeologists discovered at the site "a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoid lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife."

Discovery News reports that a bronze drinking bowl and a bronze dagger were also recovered next to the man's skeleton. The body was laid in traditional Egyptian fashion, with hands crossed over his chest and his hair stylized. "Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally, we assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government," the researchers added in their statement.

Dr. Ron Be'eri told The Times of Israel that the body was likely that of a Canaanite whose burial somewhat resembled Egyptian tradition, showing the wide influence of Egyptian culture on the Nile region. Be'eri added that the body will be thoroughly researched to determine if it was of Canaanite or Egyptian origin.

The ceramic coffin and body is considered to be a rare find, the likes of which have not been recovered in Israel for the past 50 years.

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