JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A team of Israeli archaeologists and high school students have unearthed a 3,800-year-old pottery jug bearing a statuette of a person who appears deep in thought, sitting with knees bent and head rested on hand.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said on Wednesday the jug, dating back to what archaeologists refer to as the Middle Bronze Age, had been found during an excavation in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb.
"It seems that at first the jug, which is typical of the period, was prepared and afterwards the unique sculpture was added, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research," said Gilad Itach, who directed the excavation, which included teenage diggers.
The statuette is about 18 cm (7 inches) tall.
"One can see that the face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection," he said.
Other vessels and metal items were found such as daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones and what are believed to be the bones of a donkey.
Itach said the collection seemed to be funeral offerings, likely of an important member of an ancient community.
"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 statuette was the latest discovery by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is charged with carrying out excavations at all major building sites across the country to make sure no relics are destroyed.
In recent months its teams have found treasures from gold coins to an ancient mosaic.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Janet Lawrence)