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.
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