BAR 25:01, Jan/Feb 1999
Dig In: A Guide to 99 Digs
Prize Find: Carved Bone Handle, Abu al-Kharaz
Its still not clear just who ruled Abu al-Kharaz, in the Jordan River valley, during the Iron Age. It was probably a local king, though a foreign, particularly eastern, influence is obvious in the artifacts that we have found there. One thing is certain: A domestic building within the Iron Age II citadel was destroyed by a fierce conflagration in about 800 B.C. This carved bone handle, however, survived.
The handle was probably attached to some kind of rod, and has an intact stopper closing its base. The stopper was probably glued in position with resin. The decoration shows two sphinxes walking to the left. Dowel holes pierce the sphinxes foreheads; the dowels were probably used to fix a scepter, a fan or a flywhisk to the handle.