MembersA Basalt Lioness roars again

Archaeology

By Netanell Doron |
Photo: Mordechai Aviam

“As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, and say, ‘What was your mother? A lioness among lions! She lay down among young lions, she reared her cubs.’” (Ezekiel 19:1-2)

Archaeologists have uncovered the relief of a lioness chiseled out of a basaltic rock and weighing 1,300 pounds (600 kg) near to Tel el-Araj. It is possible that this is the location of Bethsaida in Galilee, a location mentioned frequently in the Gospels. It is estimated that the lioness dates from the 4th to 6th centuries AD, Mordechai Aviam from the Kinneret Academic College in Galilee told us. The massive stone had to be retrieved using a crane.

The relief is well preserved. The lioness’ head is sculpted three-dimensionally, whereas the body is high relief but flatter than the head. The figure is complete, including a short mane, pointed fangs, the tongue hanging out, and even the tail.

Does a lioness have a mane? When asked how he could tell that this sculpture represented a female rather than a male, Aviam explained that artists at that time tended...

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