ancient egyptian statue of pharaoh found in israel ancient egyptian statue of pharaoh found in israel The solar cobra rising from this statue's forehead was a sign that it represented a pharaoh. (Photo: Israel Exploration Society)

The unsolved mystery behind this 4,400-year-old pharaoh sculpture

Who was this man? Who brought his statue so far from home? And who destroyed it?

There's something mesmerizing about this statue. A pharaoh, delicate-faced, rests with a snake on his head. He looks calm, which makes sense considering that Egyptian pharaohs were supposed to be tranquil and benevolent, like the Nile. But his delicate features and chill demeanor hide three mysteries that researchers are still trying to unravel. Who was this man? Who took his statue so far from home? And who destroyed it?

Archaeologists uncovered this statue in 1995, and researchers just wrote a new publication about it. The scientists determined that it must have been made in Egypt around 2465-2323 B.C.E. But that's where the specificity ends. Researchers still haven't been able to figure out which pharaoh it represents because the same face was used on Egyptian statues throughout that time period. Apparently, everyone was copying one image of King Menkaure, an earlier Egyptian king, for almost a century. Guy must have been a style icon or something.

You'd expect to find a statue of an Egyptian pharaoh to be in Egypt, of course. But archaeologists discovered this head in the ancient Israeli city of Hazor, near Haifa.

Hazor, the ancient city where the statue was found, is in northern Israel.Hazor, the ancient city where the statue was found, in northern Israel. (Photo: Wikipedia)

And it wasn't just an Egyptian-looking, impressive ancient statue that someone actually made in Israel. The statue was made out of graywacke, a kind of rock only dug up near Egypt. Someone must have brought it to Hazor.

“The history of the statue was surely quite complex, and the kingdom of Hazor must have been eager to use and display a prestige object connected to Egyptian royal imagery," wrote scientists from Belgium and Italy in a report on the statue.

People kept it safe in Hazor for 1,000 years until it was destroyed. The researchers determined that the statue didn't simply crack with time. They found a bunch of other statue pieces from the same period in the same area. Someone did this on purpose.

If anyone ever figures out the story behind this sculpture, we might learn a lot about both friendly trade and military history in the ancient region. But for now, your guess is as good as ours.

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