Jack Finegan

This squatting sandstone figure bears an inscription in proto-Sinaitic, one of the earliest known Semitic scripts (c. 1500 B.C.) This statue is one of a group of inscribed figures discovered by Sir Flinders Petrie at Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai Desert. In these inscriptions, the letter Taw, which has the appearance of a cross, is the most common sign, occuring more than 35 times.

Shortly after the discovery of these inscriptions, an Egyptologist deciphered the single word inscribed on the base of this statue as “L’Ba’alat”—“belonging to the female Ba’al.” Ba’alat is the Semitic name for the Egyptian goddess Hathor who is the deity of turquoise, the semi-precious gem quarried at Serabit el-Khadem.