Saturday 10 August 2013

The Mekal Stele from Bet She'an

The Mekal Stele from Bet She'an. The stele was made by two Egyptians, probably governors of the Canaanite city under the Egyptian king, possibly Seti I. Two Egyptians, Amenemapt and Paraemheb, are giving offerings to the deity Resheph-Mekal. Amenempat was a great military officer in the Egyptian army and probably built this temple for the city's god, and dedicated it to his king. The two worshipers are offering lotus flowers to the god, and laying them on the altar. This symbolizes life, fertility, and healing, as well as Resheph-Mekal's chthonic or underworld nature. The writing is in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Resheph-Mekal is also worshiped in Kittim, where he began to influence Greek cults of Apollon.

Bet-She'an continued to be an important city, maintaining its large temple for Resheph-Mekal (despite the fact that the city was destroyed and rebuilt several times, once perhaps by King David of Judah). The city was again destroyed by the Assyrians, and then rebuilt after Tiglath-Pileser III's conquest of the west. The city again passed into Egyptian control, and its polis (a group of registered administrators loyal to the Hellenistic state) was called Scythopolis in reference to Scythian soldiers who formed a garrison in Bet She'an during the reign of King Ptolemaios II of Egypt. The city was once again destroyed, this time by the Hashmonayim, and again rebuilt in Roman times. Resheph-Mekal continued to have his major temple, with other gods being worshiped in the city such as Baal Shamem, the Dioscuri, the wine-god Dionysos, and the goddess Demeter. By Byzantine times a church had been built alongside the great temples. There was also a Samaritan synagogue, and a Jewish synagogue forming part of an inn and a house, which belonged to the brothers Leontius and Jonathan. A monastery, the Monastery of the Lady Mary, was also built. The whole city was eventually destroyed by an earthquake.

No comments:

Post a Comment