The accidental discovery of this bronze bull figurine, on the summit of a high ridge in northern Samaria, alerted archaeologist Amihai Mazar to the possible existence of an important site. Standing firmly on four hooves without any other support, the 5-inch-high, 7-inch-long bull is the largest such figurine ever found in the Levant. Its empty eye-sockets probably once held inlays of glass or of semiprecious stones. The small hump on its back, amove the forelegs, identifies this as a “Zebu bull” (Bos indicus), a species that originated in India, but which was present in the Near East as early as the fourth millennium B.C.

The bull motif is quite common in Near Eastern iconography as a symbol of power and fertility; a similar bronze bull figurine was previously found in a temple at Hazor. The Bull Site figurine may have been a votive offering, or it may have been worshipped as a deity itself, but its size, its inlaid eyes and its careful manufacture suggest the latter possibility, in Mazar’s opinion.

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