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TEL AVIV, Israel — A seven-year-old boy discovered an ancient statuette of a naked woman during a day trip to an archaeological site in Israel, antiquities officials said Thursday.
Ori Greenhut saw a dirt-covered stone with with the image of a person while climbing a mound at Tel Rehov earlier this week, according to a statement from Israel's Antiquities Authority.
Greenhut took the statue home with him to nearby Tel Teomin, the statement added.
Moriya Greenhut, the boy's mother, said she soon discovered the "impressive figurine."
"We explained to him this is an ancient artifact and that archaeological finds belong to the state," she said, according to the statement. The family then handed over the statue to authorities.
The 3,400-year-old figurine was made by pressing soft clay into a mold and is typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th to 13th centuries B.C., according to Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov.
"Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh and blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible," he said according to the Antiquities Authority statement. "Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs."
Yardenna Alexandre, a spokeswoman for the Antiquities Authority, praised the Greenhut family for handing in the artifact instead of keeping or selling it.
"It doesn't happen a lot but but there is increasing awareness of people calling up and informing the authority that they found an artifact," she said.