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Stone Mask Uncovered

January 7, 2019
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A fascinating and rare stone mask was discovered recently, its characteristics and context testifying that the mask is 9,000 years old and dates to the Neolithic (new stone age) period.

According to Ronit Lupu of the Israel Antiquities Authority Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, “The mask is a unique finding in the archaeological world. The fact that we have information regarding the specific place in which it was discovered makes this mask more important than most other masks from this period.”

The mask is made of pinkish-yellow limestone, carefully shaped with stone tools to resemble a human face. Four holes were drilled along the perimeter of the mask, probably in order to tie it—possibly to the face of a living person, or to a pole to display it. According to Lupu, “Discovering a mask made of stone, at such a high level of finish, is very exciting. The stone has been completely smoothed over and the features are perfect and symmetrical, even delineating cheek bones. It has an impressive nose and a mouth with distinct teeth.”

Dr. Omry Barzilai, head of the IAA Archaeological Research Department, said, “Stone masks are linked to the agricultural revolution. The transition from an economy based on hunting and gathering to ancient agriculture and domestication of plants and animals was accompanied by a change in social structure and a sharp increase in ritual-religious activities. Ritual findings from that period include human shaped figurines, plastered skulls and stone masks.”

Editor’s Note: Publication of this article does not imply total agreement with the dating of the antiquity.

Source: Excerpt from an article by the IAA

Photo Credit: Clara Amit/IAA

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