Ted Rosen

Gold goddess figurines: These figurines, one 6 inches long and the other 4.5 inches long, were found near the Middle Bronze gate, buried under the floor of a house that dated to about 1500 B.C.

Similar figurines found in Ugarit dating to the same period helped confirm the date of these Gezer finds. Most important for dating these figurines was the careful recording, drawing and dating of the pottery found with them; these painstaking recording techniques, the hallmark of American archaeology, reliably establish the context of each find, enabling later excavation teams to use these finds to date and interpret their own discoveries. Tell Gezer provides one of the best examples of the “American technique” of excavation in Israel.

Both goddesses wear pectorals—Egyptian-style collars—and elaborate headdresses, finely worked in repoussé technique. The taller figurine wears a torque, or twisted necklace of the precious metal, which identifies her as the Canaanite fertility goddess Astarte. Except for the torque and pectoral, she is naked. The smaller, more modest figure wears a wrapped sari-type garment.