It could be either Ahab or Jehu of Israel, Ithobaal or Hazael of Damascus, or even Ben Hadad. Archaeologists unearthed the diminutive figurine in 2017 during excavations at a site called Abel Beth Maacah, located just south of Israel’s border with Lebanon, near the modern-day town of Metula. During the 9th century B.C., the ancient town was situated in a liminal zone between three regional powers: the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus to the east, the Phoenician city of Tyre to the west, and the Israelite kingdom, with its capital in Samaria to the south.
“In the iron age, if there’s any figurative art, and there largely isn’t, it’s of very low quality. And this is of exquisite quality,” Eran Arie, Israel Museum’s curator appreciated. The royal figurine is made of faience, a glass-like material that was popular in jewelry and small human and animal figurines in ancient Egypt and the Near East. The head sculpture is on display at the Israel Museum. As the sculpture is only a head, archaeologists now plan to continue digging in the site to see if it was part of a larger piece.