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A FRAGMENT OF A CLAY JAR DEPICTING A HUMAN FACE FROM THE PERSIAN PERIOD WAS DISCOVERED IN THE CITY OF DAVID AND RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC IN HONOR OF PURIM

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In honor of Purim, a fragment of a clay jar
decorated with a human face of which two wide open eyes, a nose, one ear and a small
section of the corner of the mouth survived. The shard, dated to the Persian period (4 th – 5 th
century BCE) was revealed to the public, after being discovered in archaeological excavations
by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University in the Givati ​​Parking Lot excavation
in the City of David in a large refuse pit that contained numerous other pottery fragments
that dated to the Persian period.
According to Prof. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Israel
Antiquities Authority, "Pottery from this period was exposed in the past in the City of David,
but this is the first time that such a vessel has been found in archaeological excavations in
Jerusalem or anywhere in the Judean highlands.”
These jars are called "Bes-Vessels" and they were very common during the Persian period.,
In Egyptian mythology, Bes is the protector deity of households, especially mothers, women
in childbirth, and children. Over time, he became regarded as the defender of everything
good. He also became associated with music and dancing. His figure adorned the walls of
houses and various vessels (pottery and various everyday objects, such as mirrors), or worn
as an amulet around the neck. Bes usually appears as a kind of bearded dwarf with a large
face, protruding eyes and tongue sticking out when he is wearing a feather hat. This
grotesque figure is apparently intended to evoke joy and laughter and drive away the evil
spirits.
The figure of Bes as a protector was apparently adopted by the Phoenicians, and many such
amulets and Bes vessels have been found in numerous Persian Period settlements along the
coast. Such vessels and amulets were also found in Persia itself, in Shushan, Persepolis and
other cities, reaching there by Egyptian craftsmen who operated there as part of the
international trade economy of the period.

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