Whens she was 8 years old, Jerusalem native Neshama Spielman accomplished something pretty major. No, she didn’t win first place at her school’s science fair or receive an A+ on a test. Instead, she casually discovered a rare amulet from the time of ancient Egypt. It’s been four years since then and, during that time, archeologists have uncovered the artifact’s importance and historical background.
Since 2004, over 170,000 people have participated in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. It’s an archeological initiative involving volunteers who sift through soil removed from the area surrounding Jerusalem’s biblical temples. Four years ago, in Jerusalem’s Tzurim Valley National Park, Neshama was among these participants when she came across something rather unusual: An ancient Egyptian amulet.
“While I was sifting, I came across a piece of pottery that was different from others I had seen, and I immediately thought that maybe I had found something special,” Neshama explained on the Temple Mount Sifting Project blog. “It’s amazing to find something thousands of years old from ancient Egypt all the way here in Jerusalem.” She adds that celebrating Passover – the Jewish festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery – is going to be extra meaningful for her this year.
The rare amulet features hieroglyphics displaying the name of pharaoh Thutmose III, who ruled from 1479-1425 BCE. That means that Neshama’s discovery is over 3,200 years old. Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, revealed, “Objects bearing the name of Thutmose III continued to be produced in Egypt long after the time of his reign, reflecting the significance and lasting impression of this king.”
Though Thutmose III was an Egyptian ruler, his amulet most likely made its way to Jerusalem because the region was under Egyptian rule at the time. In fact, Thutmose III referred to himself as “the one who has subdued a thousand cities” because of all the territory he conquered.
Archaeologist Assaf Avraham concluded, “A discovery such as this is particularly symbolic at this time of year, with the Passover festival just a few days away, and represents greetings from the ancient past.”