During February 2010, a terracotta figurine was found on the surface of Horevot Sokho (map ref. 19755/62100) by A. Rosenzweig. The figurine was turned over to the Israel Antiquities Authority (photography: C. Amit).
Horevot Sokho is located in the Judean Shephelah, on the ridge of hills that close off the Ella Valley from the south. An excavation was conducted at the foot of the northern slope where a Byzantine building from the fifth–sixth centuries CE was exposed (‘Atiqot 28:17*–23* [Hebrew]). Remains from Iron Age II were uncovered in another excavation at the foot of the northern slope, and walls dating to the Middle Bronze Age were discerned in probe trenches (Permit No. A-3984). A survey was conducted at the site (Dagan Y. 2001. The Settlement in the Judean Shephelah in the Second and First Millennium BCE: A Test-case of Settlement Processes in a Geographic Region. Ph.d dissertation, Tel Aviv University, Vol. II: 46) and potsherds dating to the Late Bronze Age and later periods were gathered.
The terracotta figurine is worked in relief, depicting an image of a naked woman (length 6.7 cm, width 3.7 cm, thickness 2 cm; Fig. 1), whose head and feet are not preserved. The figurine is made of reddish brown clay that contains a few white inclusions. The naked woman is portrayed en face, supporting her breasts with her hands. Her legs are straight and close together and the hips joining the pelvis are not even. The back of the figurine (Fig. 2) is a rough and unworked plaque. The bottom part on the rear side is flat and the upper part has an elongated ridge. Figurines in relief, such as this one, were mostly made in an open mold, emphasizing the frontal view of the image; no decoration was added and the back of the plaque was not worked. When discovered in regular archaeological excavations, they were dated to the Late Bronze Age. A similar figurine was found in the excavations at Tel Lakhish (Ussishkin D. 2004. The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish, Vol. III. Tel Aviv, pp. 1573, 1577, Fig. 23.53:5). On both figurines, a similarity is discerned in the position of the image, the width (2 cm), the length of legs, the manner in which the hips are displayed, the length of the torso (3 cm) and the position of the hands. The difference in the size of the plaques indicates they were made in different molds.
Figurines of naked women similar to the example from Horevot Sokho are common throughout Eretz Israel in the Late Bronze Age. These figurines had been referred to in the past as ‘Astarte figurines’. It is not possible to determine the identity of the female image in the absence of motifs that usually represent deities, such as Hathor locks, a horned cap, lotus flowers or an image standing on an animal. This figurine and its comparison to a figurine from the Lakhish excavations contribute to data about the distribution of Late Bronze Age sites in the Judean Shephelah. Evidence of a Late Bronze Age settlement was found at the site, although its scope and nature can only be determined in an extensive archaeological excavation.