The scarab (Figure 1)
The scarab was found at the site of Khirbat Hamra Ifdan (30.661394N/35.392700E), located along the Wadi Fidan, at the ‘gateway’ to the Faynan district. The site is primarily a copper manufactory dating to the Early Bronze Age, c. 3000–2000 BC (Levy et al. 2002). It features also a caravanserai from the Classical and Islamic periods and, most importantly, there are areas of copper smelting that date to the Iron Age IIA period, c. 980–830 BC. Unfortunately, the scarab reported here was a surface find and therefore, like the Sheshonq I stela found at Megiddo, not in situ.
The scarab is made of enstatite. It is light brown in colour with traces of green glaze in the recesses. Its dimensions are 12.7mm long × 9.2mm wide × 5.5mm high. The plinth at the base is horizontally arranged and bordered by a thin line. The enclosed hieroglyphs read (from right to left):ḥḏt (S1) and ḫpr (L1) with a small r‘ (N5) between the scarab beetle’s forelegs, followed to the left by stp (U21) atop an n (N35); above these two signs are again an r‘, a mn (Y5) and a second n (Figure 2).
The hieroglyphic sequence reads ‘bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re’ which corresponds with great certainty to the throne name of the founder of the Twenty-second Egyptian Dynasty, Sheshonq I (946/45–925/24 BC (cf. von Beckerath 1997: 191; see also Shortland 2005)). After the well-known stela found at Megiddo (Fischer 1929: 12–16; Kitchen 1986: 299; Schipper 1999: 129–32; Ritner 2009: 218–19), this is only the second epigraphic attestation of Pharaoh Sheshonq I ever discovered in Cis- and Transjordan. An in-depth study of the parallels to this scarab is published in the UC San Diego–Department of Antiquities of Jordan monograph noted above (Levy et al. 2014a). This research suggests a production date for the scarab during the reign of Sheshonq I.
A radiocarbon date from the 2000 excavations in Area L at the site of Khirbat Hamra Ifdan confirms that Iron Age copper production activities took place at the site (2910±41 BP: 1192–1021 BC (68.2% probability) or 1261–995 BC (95.4% probability)) (Levy et al. 2012: 207–208), as do the technological artefacts found at the site. In an earlier publication, Levy et al. (2008) suggested that the disruption of copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas observed in the slag mound in Area M (see Levy et al. 2014b) may be attributed to the military activities of Sheshonq I’s army during their campaign in the southern Levant. This conclusion is based on the stratigraphy, high precision radiocarbon dating and a small assemblage of Egyptian amulets dating to the time of Sheshonq I. The scarab from Khirbat Hamra Ifdan contributes to understanding of what Kenneth Kitchen (2003: 296) describes as the “flying column” of Sheshonq I’s forces during their Asiatic campaign when they made their way across the northern Negev, to the southern end of the Dead Sea and then south through the Wadi Arabah. Figure 3 highlights this route which, no doubt, passed through the Faynan region. As suggested by the data concerning the late tenth century BC interruption of industrial-scale copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas, Sheshonq I’s forces aimed to disrupt this local industrial activity. Not only did they attack the main copper production centre at Khirbat en-Nahas, but also those in secondary production areas in Faynan such as Khirbat Hamra Ifdan reported here. The discovery of the Sheshonq I scarab in Jordan’s Faynan copper ore resource zone raises new research questions concerning the geopolitical aims of the Twenty-second Dynasty’s campaign in the southern Levant as well as the nature of the rapid technological changes observed in the archaeometallurgical record during the tenth to ninth centuries BC.
Special thanks to Ben Volta, the UC San Diego graduate student, who discovered the scarab presented here. Many thanks to Ulrike Zurkinden for drawing the scarab described in this paper. Thanks to Matt Howland for producing the map of the Sheshonq I campaign. We are especially grateful to the late Fawwaz al-Karaysheh and Monther Jamhawi, Directors General of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, and Barbara Porter, Director of the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman for their logistical support.
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- Thomas E. Levy
Department of Anthropology, Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory, Qualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Stefan Münger
Faculty of Theology, Institute of Jewish Studies, University of Bern, Hochschulstrasse 4, 3012 Bern, Switzerland (Email:email@example.com)
- Mohammad Najjar
Levantine and Cyber-Archaeology Laboratory, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)