The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land

A ROYAL PORTRAIT. A 5-by-3-inch sherd unearthed at Ramat Raḥel’s palace and painted in Assyrian style depicts a regal figure seated on a throne and stretching his arm forward. Though the painting is greatly faded today, when it was first discovered many more details were clearly visible: the figure’s facial features and his arm muscles, his dress with embroidered or woven stripes, the bracelets on his upper arm and wrist, and details of the throne.

The ancient artist, according to Italian archaeologist Paolo Matthiae, first outlined the figure with a fine black line; he then added a broader band of red paint. The drawing at center was made shortly after the sherd’s discovery and shows how the sherd may have looked originally. The picture at far left is from an early photo.

Taking note of the portrait’s findspot in the palace and the fact that it was painted on a locally produced piece of pottery, author Barkay suggests that the portrait is of a Judahite king, probably Hezekiah. If he is right, this diminutive depiction is the only portrait yet found of Judahite royalty.