Zila Sagiv/Israel Antiquities Authority

Our ancient Near Eastern ancestors may have made exotic offerings to the gods in cult stands such as this one, originally found smashed to pieces in a pit near the seventh/sixth century B.C. fortress at ‘En Hatzeva, about 20 miles southwest of the Dead Sea in Israel. According to the Bible, the queen of Sheba (Saba?) presented king Solomon with expensive “spices” (I Kings:10); these likely included frankincense, the crystallized sap of a tree found in the Dhofar mountain region of present-day Oman, and myrrh, an aromatic resin from a shrub indigenous to southern Arabia.