Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Agyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, ÄM 21687/Permission of Dr. Olivia Zorn

AGE BEFORE BEAUTY. This broken granite piece of a statue’s pedestal in the Berlin Museum may not look as impressive as the famous Merneptah Stele (which contains a late-13th-century B.C.E. reference to “Israel”), but the age of its inscription makes it an important new player in Biblical history. The three heads and hieroglyphic name-rings represent foreign enemies conquered by the pharaoh who set up the commemorative inscription. The name-ring on the left identifies Ashkelon. The middle name-ring appears to represent Canaan. The third (broken) name-ring may read “Israel,” according to three German scholars. Based on the early-14th-century B.C.E. dating of these hieroglyphs, this would be the oldest known reference to Israel by nearly 200 years.