Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/16/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In spite of fierce civil war, some areas remain untouched

One of the biggest losses brought upon by the Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, is the loss of priceless archaeological sites. Many of these sites have been looted or bombed since the war's onset, but there are notable exceptions. One of the most exciting finds has been a 9,000-year-old wand with two faces carved into it.

The wand was first uncovered during excavations in 2007 and 2009 at a site in southern Syria called Tell Qarassa. An artificial mound made from the debris of everyday human life had gradually built up in layers over millennia.

The wand was first uncovered during excavations in 2007 and 2009 at a site in southern Syria called Tell Qarassa. An artificial mound made from the debris of everyday human life had gradually built up in layers over millennia.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/16/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, wand, funerary ritual


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads, found in a nearby living space.

"The find is very unusual. It's unique," study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

WISH POPE FRANCIS A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Probably used in a long-lost funeral ritual, the wand is one of the only naturalistic depictions of human faces from this time and place, Braemer says.

The wand was first uncovered during excavations in 2007 and 2009 at a site in southern Syria called Tell Qarassa. An artificial mound made from the debris of everyday human life had gradually built up in layers over millennia.

Further archaeological evidence from the site suggests the ancient inhabitants were amongst the world's first farmers. There was evidence of the consumption of emmer, which is a type of wheat, barley, chickpeas and lentils, and herding or hunting goats, gazelles, pigs and deer.

As noted in the March issue of the journal Antiquity, after the skeletons and wand were buried, someone seems to have dug up and removed the skulls, placing them in the inhabited portion of the settlement.

The wand was probably carved from the rib of an auroch, the wild ancestor of cows, and was about 4.7 inches long. Two natural-looking faces, with eyes closed, were carved into the bone. The wand was intentionally broken at both ends, with more faces likely originally adorning the staff.

The item's purpose and symbolism remains shrouded in mystery. "It's clearly linked to funerary rituals, but what kind of rituals, it's impossible to tell," Braemer says.

Older artifacts typically showed stylized or schematic representations of humans, but realistic depictions of animals. Art unearthed in areas that are now Jordan and Anatolia from the same time period uses natural representations of the human form, suggesting this trend emerged simultaneously in regions throughout the Middle East, Braemer said.

The artistic innovation may have been tied to the emerging desire to create material representations of identity and personhood, the authors say.

However -- why someone dug up the skulls and placed them within the living areas of the settlement is also unclear. Archaeologists unearthed similar finds in Jericho, Israel, also dating to around 9,000 years ago, where the skulls of ancestors were covered with plaster and painted with facial features, then displayed in living spaces.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Middle East

The 'Lions of Allah' will strike at the west: Al-Qaeda warns that lone wolf attacks are just beginning Watch

Image of A senior Al-Qaeda official has warned the west that more lone wolf attacks will take place.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an interview with "Inspire" a jihadist magazine, a senior al-Qaeda official has warned that there will many more lone wolf terrorist attacks in the west. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nasr Al Ansi said that the attacks would not stop, would only increase ... continue reading


Christmas Letter of Pope Francis to the Persecuted Christians of the Middle East Watch

Image of Sadly, afflictions and tribulations have not been lacking, even more recently, in the Middle East.  They have been aggravated in the past months because of the continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts.  It has particularly affected a number of you, who have been brutally driven out of your native lands, where Christians have been present since apostolic times.- Pope Francis

By Pope Francis

Dear Christian brothers and sisters of the Middle East, you have an enormous responsibility and in meeting it you are not alone.  That is why I wanted to write to you, to encourage you and to let you know how precious your presence and your mission are in ... continue reading


Choosing death: Yazidi women driven to suicide when forced into sexual slavery by ISIS Watch

Image of The Yazidis are a centuries-old religious minority based in northern Iraq and Syria that follow a religion that predates Islam and Christianity but shares elements with Abrahamic religions.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

When confronted with being sold into slavery and forced into a life of demeaning sexual violence and rape, hundreds of Yazidi women in captivity to Islamic State have chosen to take their own lives. Those are the shocking facts as found by Amnesty ... continue reading


Why is Pakistan about to hang 500 innocent men? Death penalty reimposed following school massacre, but many fear that hundreds of innocents will be killed Watch

Image of Already six Pakistanis who were convicted of being involved in terrorist attacks have been executed, another 500 will follow over the next few weeks, revenge for the school massacre that killed nearly 150 people.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following the recent terrorist attack in Pakistan, Pakistani officials have announced that they intent to execute roughly 500 people on death row, who are accused of being militant Islamists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The move follows the attack on ... continue reading


GAINS AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE: Kurds recapture large area of Iraqi town, Sinjar Watch

Image of About 8,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the ground launched a two-pronged attack which they said had succeeded in opening a wide corridor to allow members of the Yazidi minority and others to leave.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

A "large area" of the Iraqi town of Sinjar has been recaptured from Islamic State militants, Kurdish authorities say. Peshmerga forces have taken control of the area near Mount Sinjar. Near the Syrian border, the town had been under ISIS control since August. LOS ... continue reading


150 Iraqi women choose death rather than become sex slaves in the Islamic State Watch

Image of A woman is auctioned into slavery by the Islamic State. Such sights are a daily occurrence now the Islamic State holds vast swathes of territory in what was formerly Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this month, the Islamic State staged an execution of 150 women and girls because they refused to marry or have sex with Islamic State jihadists. The mass execution was reported on Dec. 16, by the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


With winter knocking for displaced Iraqis, supplies fall short of needs Watch

Image of Thousands of Iraqi children face famine as winter arrives.

By (CNA/EWTN News)

As millions of displaced Iraqis are caught in the dead of winter, the international community has a long way to go to cover their basic needs, according to a panel testimony before Congress last week. WASHINGTON D.C., December 18 (CNA/EWTN News) - "Indeed, we are not ... continue reading


Hundreds rescued as Kurdish forces punch through Islamic State siege Watch

Image of Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought through an Islamic State siege which held hundreds of Yazidi minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the ongoing war with the Islamic State, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have reported a victory in northern Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Kurdish military says it has recaptured territory near the Sinjar Mountain, the site of the dramatic airdrops that ... continue reading


Islam is the religion of peace? You'll reconsider when you read the laws of true Islam Watch

Image of A crucifixion in the Islamic State.

By Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch

How refreshing it would be if some of the people, Muslim or non-Muslim, who insist that the Islamic State is not Islamic would show how this penal code is contrary to Islam and Sharia. But they will not do so, because they can't. "Islamic State (ISIS) Publishes Penal ... continue reading


In the wake of the Taliban's brutal attack in Pakistan, Christians come together in show of support and solidarity Watch

Image of 132 school children were killed by Taliban gunmen when they attacked an army school in Peshawar province.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following the abominable and devastating attack on a Pakistani school by Islamic gunmen, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church has condemned the massacre. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Taliban jihadists attacked an ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
2 for the Lord honours the father above his children ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 2:22-40
22 And when the day came for them to be purified in ... Read More

Reading 2, Colossians 3:12-21
12 As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 28th, 2014 Image

St. Anthony the Hermit
December 28: Anthony was born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter