Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University/Avi Hay

Identified as a deity by her horns, this figurine (late seventh century or early sixth century B.C.E.) was associated with the Edomite cult shrine excavated at H|orvat Qitmit, in southern Judah. It is so very similar to another distinctively Edomite statuette, the double-flute player on this issue’s cover, that author Itzhaq Beit-Arieh believes the two clay figurines were made by the same artisan in the same workshop—probably at Tel Malhata, where the piper was found.

The goddess’s wheel-made head resembles a kind of rattle found at many Iron Age sites. Similar horns are found on metallic mitres from Syria and Phoenicia; clay mitres, however, are extremely rare, and this figurine is the only example of a goddess with a three-horned headdress. Although the significance of the third horn remains a mystery, scholars speculate that it may derive from the uraeus worn on the forehead by Egyptian pharaohs.

The three-horned goddess and the piper are among hundreds of Edomite artifacts found in the Negev. In ancient times, the kingdom of Edom lay across the Arava Valley, in modern southern Jordan. According to the Bible, the Edomites (the sons of Esau) were bitter enemies of the Israelites (the sons of Jacob). So how do we explain the presence of Edomite artifacts in Judah, dating to a time when the monarchy still stood? According to Beit-Arieh, the Edomites advanced into Judah while the Israelite monarchy was threatened by the Assyrians and by the Babylonians, who destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.