Tiny pharaoh-branded amulet may prove fabled military campaign of Sheshonq I
An archaeological student has discovered a tiny Egyptian scarab in an ancient copper mine in southern Jordan, which carries the name of Sheshonq I, powerful pharaoh of Egypt’s 22 nd Dynasty, according to a report in Live Science. The artifact may provide evidence for Sheshonq I's legendary military campaign in the mineral-rich region nearly 3,000 years ago.
The small scarab amulet was found in the Bronze Age smelting slags at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan in the Faynan district of Jordan, about 50 kilometres south of the Dead Sea, which was first discovered in 2002. The region is one of three main sources of copper in the southeast Mediterranean basin.
The hieroglyphy on the scarab read: "bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re," which corresponds to the throne name of Sheshonq I, who ruled from 943 to 924 BC. Sheshonq I, otherwise known as Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq I, was a Meshwesh king of Egypt and the founder of the 22 nd Dynasty. The Meshwesh (often abbreviated in ancient Egyptian as Ma) were an ancient Libyan tribe from beyond Cyrenaica who were of African ethnicity.
Shoshenq I (Wikipedia)
In a report published in the journal Antiquity, the team of archaeologists reignite the theory that the scarab links Shoshenq I to the time and place of the copper mine’s demise. Radiocarbon dating at the copper slags of Khirbat Hamra Ifdan suggest that the ancient factory was in operation between c. 2910 BC and 995 BC, ±41 years.
In an earlier report published in 2008, Thomas E. Levy, an anthropology professor at the University of California, and colleagues, suggested that the disruption of copper production at the mine may be attributed to the military activities of Sheshonq I’s army during their campaign in the southern Levant.
It is known that Sheshonq I pursued an aggressive foreign policy in the adjacent territories of the Near East, towards the end of his reign. This is attested, in part, by the Bubastite Portal at Karnak, which depicts a list of city states conquered by Shoshenq I in his campaigns. But there is also a theory that Sheshonq I is the legendary Egyptian king “Shishak” references in the Hebrew Bible, who is said to have invaded the region five years after King Solomon's death in 931 BC, conquering cities in Jezreel Valley and the Negev area and even marching on Jerusalem.
The Bubastite Portal at Karnak, depicting a list of city states conquered by Shoshenq I in his Near Eastern military campaigns. (Wikipedia)
Levy and colleagues propose that Sheshonq I’s forces marched across the northern Negev, to the southern end of the Dead Sea and then to the south through the Wadi Arabah, passing through the Faynan region where the copper mine is located. They then attacked the main copper production centre, as well as secondary production areas in the region, in order to disrupt the local industrial activity, which would have been a source of great power and wealth in the region.
Levy said that the amulet found in the copper mine is the first written evidence linking the disruption to the pharaoh’s forces and “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 archaeo-metallurgical record during the tenth to ninth centuries BC.”