‘Toy’ spotted on school trip turns out to be 3,000-year-old find, Israeli experts say

A school trip led to a “surprise discovery” at an archaeological park in Israel, according to authorities.

Eighth grade students from Rabin Middle School visited an archaeological park in Azor, according to a Nov. 30 news release from the Israel Antiquities Authority via a partner organization. The students were taking a tour as part of a course on local archaeology.

As their tour guide showed them around, he spotted in the dirt “something that looked like a small toy,” Gilad Stern, with the organization’s Authority Educational Center, said in the release.

He went over to pick it up and, when he turned it over, “was astonished!”

The small blue-green object was a 3,000-year-old scarab seal with an engraved scene, experts said. The scene shows two figures, one seated and one standing with a raised arm. The seal is shaped like a dung beetle, an insect that rolls a ball of dung twice its side and stores its offspring inside.

Scarabs were an ancient “symbol of power and status,” Dr. Amir Golani, a Bronze Age specialist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in the release. This seal “may have been placed on a necklace or a ring… It may have dropped from the hands of an important figure of authority who passed through the area, or it may have been deliberately buried in the ground, and other objects came to the surface after thousands of years.”

The engraved scene may show an ancient Egyptian pharaoh giving authority to a local subject, Golani said.

Scarab seals are “distinctly Egyptian” but often found beyond Egypt’s modern borders, officials said. Ancient Egyptian craftsmen made scarab seals that Israeli artisans mimicked. This seal is made of a faience, a glazed pottery material, and was likely made by a local Israeli craftsman.

The find was “the dream of every amateur archaeologist,” Stern said. ”The pupils were excited!”

A selfie of the tour guide and students on the school trip.
A selfie of the tour guide and students on the school trip.

Azor is about 5 miles southeast of Tel Aviv.

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