Length: 2.500 cm
Width: 2.060 cm
Room 57-59: Ancient Levant
Pendant from the Tell el-cAjjul hoard
Canaanite, about 1750-1550 BC
From Tell el-cAjjul, Israel
Part of the largest group of goldwork from southern Canaan
This star pendant may be related to the cult of the Canaanite deity Astarte, as the star is the symbol of the related Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. It was part of a hoard of jewellery, the largest group of such gold objects found in southern Canaan. The hoard as a whole illustrates the technological expertise of the Canaanite craftsmen. This piece is in the repoussé technique, in which sheet gold was hammering into relief, either into a mould or over a shape known as a former. The gold is likely to have come from Egypt, though the style originates in Syria.
From around 2000 BC there was a gradual movement of Canaanites into the Egyptian Delta. It would appear that they eventually seized political control and established a dynasty known as the 'Hyksos' (from the Greek, meaning 'rulers of foreign lands'). After perhaps a hundred and fifty years the Hyksos were driven out by a rival native dynasty from Thebes.
Tell el-cAjjul may be the site of Sharuhen, the last stronghold of the Hyksos armies. The city was defended by a rampart and a deep ditch. A large palace occupied one area. The gold hoard suggests that the city was extremely wealthy and that the inhabitants had time to hide their valuables before abandoning the site, which may have been destroyed by Egyptian forces in about 1550 BC.
A. Kempinski, 'The Middle Bronze Age' in The archaeology of ancient Isr (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992)
J.N. Tubb, Canaanites (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)