Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed a vessel from the Middle Bronze Age featuring a bizarre statuette of a person sitting thoughtfully with his hand on his chin.

Called by the Times of Israel the "Bronze Age ancestor of Rodin's Thinker," the unusual 3,800-year-old statuette was uncovered during an excavation in the city of Yehud, near Tel Aviv, which involved the participation of high school students.

Daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones and what appears to be the bones of a donkey were found with the vessel.

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"It seems that these objects are funerary offerings that were buried in honor of an important member of the ancient community," Gilad Itach, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

"To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country," he said.


The complete jug after being restored in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities AuthorityCredit: Clara Amit.

Sitting atop the jug with his knees bent, the seven-inch tall clay statuette was created with an impressive level of precision and attention to detail.

Most likely the sculpture, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research, was added after the vessel was made.

"The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture," Itach said.

"It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman," he added.

The researchers also discovered 6,000-year-old remains from the Chalcolithic period, including thousands of fragments of pottery vessels, hundreds of flint and basalt tools and animal bones. They also unearthed a churn which was widely used for making butter.

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