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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/6/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Remnants of prehistoric people who abandoned nomadic life

Give man a mask - and he will tell you the truth. Masks, more than 9,000 years old will soon be the subject of a new exhibit in Jerusalem. Considered amongst the most ancient human portraits, the masks all originated from Israel. All feature the same striking features, perhaps in order to resemble the spirits of their owners' dead ancestors.

Some of the faces on the masks are young; others appear old and are thought to represent venerated ancestors.

Some of the faces on the masks are young; others appear old and are thought to represent venerated ancestors.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/6/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: MAsks, rites, maagic, Jerusalem


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As is the case with ancient masks, the items are thought to have been used in religious and social ceremonies, as well as rites of healing and magic.

A collection of rare 9,000-year-old masks, which are considered among the most ancient human portrai

A collection of rare 9,000-year-old masks, which are considered among the most ancient human portraits, are to go on show in Jerusalem. This mask is carved from limestone and represents the spirit of a revered ancestor.


All 12 masks have the same large eyes and gaping mouths. All have striking dissimilarities in order to represent the individual spirits of ancestors.

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Made in the Judean Hills and nearby Judean Desert, it's believed that the perforations on the masks could have been used for a cord allowing a person to wear them, or even for hair, to give them a more human appearance.

Debby Hershman, Israel Museum Curator of Prehistoric Cultures and the Face to Face Exhibition holds

Debby Hershman, Israel Museum Curator of Prehistoric Cultures and the Face to Face Exhibition holds up one of the rare 9,000-year-old Neolithic stone masks.


The masks would have originally been painted, but only one has the remnants of any color.

It will be the first time that the group of 12 Neolithic masks will be displayed together in their "birthplace," at the exhibition at The Israel Museum.

Some of the faces on the masks are young; others appear old and are thought to represent venerated ancestors.

A limestone mask from the Neolithic period (ca 9,000 years ago) on display in the Israel Museum in J

A limestone mask from the Neolithic period (ca 9,000 years ago) on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.


Archaeologists say that the people who carved the masks were among the first humans to abandon nomadic life and set up home in permanent settlements, but because they predate writing by some 3,500 years, no one can be exactly sure what they were used for.

Compared to other skulls used in religious ceremonies for ancestors found in other villages from the same period, it is thought the masks were used in magical rites.

In recreating human images for cultic purposes, the early agricultural societies of Neolithic times may have been expressing their increasing mastery of the natural world and reflecting their growing understanding of the nature of existence.

It is thought that perforations on the mask could have been used for a cord allowing a person to wea

It is thought that perforations on the mask could have been used for a cord allowing a person to wear them, or even for hair, to give them a more human appearance.


"It is extraordinary to be able to present side by side this rare group of ancient stone masks, all originating from the same region in the ancient Land of Israel," James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum says.

The people who carved the masks (pictured) were among the first humans to abandon nomadic life and s

The people who carved the masks (pictured) were among the first humans to abandon nomadic life and set up home in permanent settlements, but because they predate writing by some 3,500 years, no one can be exactly sure what they were used for.


"That we have been able to assemble so many - first for intensive comparative research and then for display - is a tribute to the collections that were so cooperative in making these treasures available to us.

"And, given their origins in the region and the context provided by the adjacent setting of our Archaeology Wing, their display in our Museum in Jerusalem carries special meaning, underscoring their place in the unfolding history of religion and art."

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