Erich Lessing

Although frequently thought of as a marker of Jewish identity, many societies past and present—including most of the ancient Israelites’ Semitic neighbors—have practiced circumcision. An ivory engraving from the late 13th or early 12th century B.C.E. discovered at Megiddo, in northern Israel, depicts naked circumcised prisoners being brought before a Canaanite king. The prisoners are often identified as Shasu—nomads of South Canaan, Edom and Moab who are frequently compared with the emerging Israelites.