Ancient goddess sculpture discovered by farmer in Gaza Strip

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A Palestinian farmer found a rare 4,500-year-old stone sculpture while working on his land in the southern Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas authorities said on Monday.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the 22 centimeters (6.7 inches) tall limestone head is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess Anat and is dated to around 2,500 BC.

“Anat was the goodness of love, beauty and war in Canaanite mythology,” Jamal Abu Rida, director of the ministry, said in a statement.

Gaza, a narrow enclave on the Mediterranean Sea, has a treasure trove of antiquities and archaeological sites as it was a major land route connecting ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Levant and Mesopotamia.

But unearthed antiquities frequently disappear, and development projects take priority over preserving archaeological sites under the urban sprawl needed to accommodate the 2.3 million people crammed into the densely populated territory.

In 2017, the militant group Hamas, which had taken control of the Gaza Strip a decade earlier, destroyed large parts of a rare Canaanite settlement to make way for a housing estate for its own employees.

And to date, a life-size statue of the Greek god Apollo that 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 Roman-era tomb.

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