Bronze age thinker found in Israel

Max, November 27, 2016 

Humans have been kind of weird for a long time.

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Bizarre 3,800-Year-Old ‘Thinking Man’ Statue Found in Israel

This jumped out at me for a couple of reasons. One, I just love archaeology and ancient history and this is a pretty remarkable find displaying exquisite craftsmanship. More interesting to me, though, is the visions it conjures of life in the times in which it was made.

3800 years ago would place this in a region that would become known as Canaan, a loose confederacy of city states under control of the Amorite kings. The best known of these was Hammurabi of Babylon, but this would have been just before or immediately after he took power relatively far off to the east. He was still laying low for a while to avoid the wrath of the powerful kings of Assyria who were nearing the end of their first period of dominance.

It was a fairly cosmopolitan era, as the manufacture of bronze tools and weapons required an extensive trading network, the raw materials being copper which was mostly found on the island of Cypress and tin which had to come all the way from what is now Afghanistan. The specific locality was along the eastern Mediterranean coast between Egypt and Syria near modern Tel Aviv.

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Egypt was a strong influence in the area, but the Middle Kingdom was coming to an end and they were starting to have major internal problems. It was probably an exciting time with the native culture beginning to come to fruition as the invaders from North and South were in relative retreat.

A fascinating thing happened about this time of great importance to humanity’s destiny. An alphabetic script known as the Proto-Sinaic was being developed which some think was the earliest ancestor of the Phoenician alphabet from which Greek was eventually derived. Up until then there were only two types of writing known; hieroglyphic picture writing in Egypt and wedge shaped cuneiform in the rest of the Near East. Here’s an example:

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According to the caption, the translation includes something like “to the lady.” The romantic in me wants really bad for this to be a very special message accompanying this amazing piece of art a wealthy and highly imaginative resident of the area may have presented to his beloved. Unfortunately, as the name implies, the script came from far away in the southern Sinai peninsula so was unlikely to be known in this region, but who knows? Maybe the dude had good connections. Fun to imagine.

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