Lined up like soldiers, these gilded bronze figurines from Lebanon bear a strong resemblance to the Phoenician divinity Resheph, the god of war and plague.
The figurines, which measure only a few inches tall, were discovered at the Phoenician “Temple of the Obelisks” in Byblos, Lebanon. The temple where the figurines were found is also known as the Temple of Resheph—after the god who was worshiped there—and was built around 1600 B.C. The temple featured a courtyard with a giant obelisk at the center, thought to represent the god, surrounded by smaller shrines and obelisks.
The male figures are believed to be votives, or offerings to Rephesh, and were likely constructed in local workshops. Each one wears a conical helmet or headdress that resembles the Egyptian crowns of the time, a detail that demonstrates a cultural link between Egypt and Byblos. Some scholars believe that the figurines are connected to the worship of the goddess Astarte.