The Samaria Ivories—Phoenician or Israelite?

samaria-ivories-stag

A stag from the Samaria ivories. Photo: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

From the moment they were discovered, the Samaria ivories created fanfare. Recently some scholars have challenged the long-accepted assumption about the ivories’ origins.

When the Samaria ivories were first excavated, they were immediately explained as Phoenician products and, therefore, considered foreign to their discovery site, Samaria. However, there is currently no archaeological evidence to indicate that the Samaria ivories were, in fact, Phoenician. Recently some scholars have challenged the long-accepted assumption about the ivories’ origins. Liat Naeh, a Ph.D. student at the Archaeology Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the winner of the 2017 Dever Prize, offers a new perspective in her paper “In Search of Identity: The Contribution of Recent Finds to Our Understanding of Iron Age Ivory Objects in the Material Culture of the Southern Levant.”1

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