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One of the Neolithic figurines found near Jerusalem

Archaeologists from Israel’s Antiquity Authority have found animal figurines around 9,500 years old during the expansion of Highway 1 from Tel Aviv.

Searchers discovered the figurines of a ram and a wild  bovine in Tel Moza, a rich archeological site in the Judean Hills outside of  Jerusalem. The ram, made from limestone, has intricately carved horns and is  about 15 centimeters long.

“The sculpting is extraordinary and precisely  depicts details of the animal’s image; the head and the horns protrude in front  of the body and their proportions are extremely accurate,” said  Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, one of the co-directors of the dig from the  Antiquities Authority.

The second figurine is more abstract and depicts a  large animal with prominent horns that could be a wild bovine or  buffalo.

Khalaidy said the object most likely dates from the period when  early humans began the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to  sedentary life based on farming and grazing with permanent settlements. “The  Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period [the eighth millennium BCE] is considered one of  the most fascinating chapters in the history of mankind; many changes took place  in it that shaped human society for thousands of years to come,” he said in a  statement released by the Antiquities Authority.

Anna Eirikh, the other  codirector of the dig, believes that the figurines are linked to the process of  animal domestication, as the inhabitants began to build complex societies and  agricultural villages.

But Khalaily believes the figurines were used as  talismans.  “Presumably, the figurines served as good luck statues for  ensuring the success of the hunt and might have been the focus of a traditional  ceremony the hunters performed before going out into the field to pursue their  prey,” he said.

Full story here: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=283036

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