A 4,500-year-old stone statue of the head of Canaanite goddess Anat was found by a Palestinian farmer.
The idol was revealed to the public on Tuesday, according to CNN, after it was found by farmer Nidal Abu Eid when working his land near Khan Younis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.
“At first, I hoped to sell it to someone to make some money,” he told The New Arab, “but an archaeologist told me that it was of great archaeological value.”
The goddess Anat was the Canaanites’ goddess of love, beauty, and war, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Director Jamal Abu Rida. The statue of Anat is nearly nine inches tall and shows the goddess wearing a serpent for a crown, according to the BBC.
The Canaanites were a biblical people who came from the line of Noah’s grandson Canaan. They occupied the land God promised to Abraham and were eventually driven out in Israel’s conquest of the “Promised Land.”
The age and discovery of the idol of Anat fits with the biblical timeline and its description of the Canaanites as wicked people in the sight of God. The first of the Ten Commandments tells God’s people, “You should have no other gods before me,” and the second commandment prohibits people from worshiping a “graven image.”
The discovery of the Anat idol is evidence of the Canaanites breaking those commandments and offending God. Their disobedience resulted in the Israelites driving them out of the land where they lived, according to the biblical account.
According to Rida, the statue discovered by the farmer is a “symbol for the oldest human civilization that lived in Gaza City.”
The BBC reported, “On social media, some Gazans are making wry comments suggesting the goddess’s association with war seems apt. In recent years, they have seen a series of devastating flare-ups in the conflict between Israel and militant groups in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.”
The farmer told reporters, “We found it by chance. It was muddy and we washed it with water.”
“We thank God, and we are proud that it stayed in our land, in Palestine, since the Canaanite times,” he said.
The statue of Anat is now displayed in one of Gaza’s only museums.
Other historical artifacts have been found in Gaza in recent years. In 2013, a fisherman found a 2,500-year-old statue that historians believe was of the Greek god Apollo. However, the statue mysteriously disappeared after going up for sale on eBay, the BBC reported.
In February, construction workers in Gaza found 31 Roman-era tombs estimated to be as old as 2,000 years while building a residential area, per AFP.