A Palestinian farmer has found a rare 4,500-year-old stone sculpture while working on his land in the southern Gaza Strip, the Hamas government announced.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities says the 22 cm (6.7 inches) tall limestone head is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess Anat and is estimated to date to around 2,500 BC.
“Anat was the goodness of love, beauty, and war in the Canaanite mythology,” said Jamal Abu Rida, the ministry’s director, in a statement.
Gaza, a narrow enclave on the Mediterranean Sea, boasts a trove of antiquities and archaeological sites as it was a major land route connecting ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Levant and Mesopotamia.
But discovered antiquities frequently disappear and development projects are given priority over the preservation of archaeological sites beneath the urban sprawl needed to accommodate 2.3 million people packed into the densely populated territory.
In 2017, the militant Hamas group, which had seized control of the Gaza Strip a decade earlier, destroyed large parts of a rare Canaanite settlement to make way for a housing development for its own employees.
And to date, a life-size statue of the Greek god Apollo that had surfaced in 2013 and then disappeared has yet to be found.
In January, bulldozers digging for an Egyptian-funded housing project unearthed the ruins of a tomb dating back to the Roman era.