Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/16/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

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.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

3/16/2014 (1 year 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.


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'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Middle East

CRYBABY KILLER: Islamic State fighter breaks down in tears after being captured -- on video Watch

Image of The prisoner, in civilian clothing seems to have his hands bound behind his back, his eyes covered with a blindfold.


Despite the fact that they frequently attack unarmed women and children, the Islamist State terrorist group likes to provide an image to the world that they are unrepentant, fearless warriors. Part of that image was tarnished with the discovery of a video of an ... continue reading

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Islamic extremist shown being BLOWN UP while making propaganda video Watch

Image of A bearded Islamic fighter, identified as some as being Ajnad al-Sham, gives a propaganda speech to the camera as a bomb drops from the sky, destroying him.


It at first appears to be a horrible, horrible TV comedy sketch. A bearded Islamic fighter, identified as some as being Ajnad al-Sham, gives a propaganda speech to the camera as a bomb drops from the sky, destroying him. The agonized cries of both him and his camera ... continue reading

Evidence mounts: U.S. supplying ISIS, herding fighters towards Syria to attack Assad Watch

Image of A fighter poses with what is reported to be to be U.S. supplies.

By David Drudge (California Network)

The pattern is becoming even clearer. Obama is supplying ISIS in Syria, while bombing them in Iraq. It is becoming apparent that the Obama administration is using the military to nudge ISIS towards Assad as part of its ongoing campaign to reshape the Middle East. LOS ... continue reading

How to balance compassion with security concerns with influx of Syrian refugees Watch

Image of In the wake of the attacks, U.S. Catholic bishops have asked Americans not to scapegoat all Syrian refugees as possible terrorists and to remember their dire humanitarian plight.

By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News

As the U.S. plans to increase its intake of Syrian refugees to 10,000 next year, Americans - including Catholics - are trying to balance national security concerns with compassion for the refugees. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "Americans need to understand that ... continue reading

The one thing ISIS is afraid of - and it's not what you think! Watch

Image of Nicolas Hénin was an ISIS hostage for ten months, during which he observed the remarkable ignorance of Islam extremists.


In a blog written by Nicolas Hénin, posted to, Hénin wrote what life was like as an ISIS hostage, and revealed the one thing ISIS fears most. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During his ten-month captivity, Hénin observed the extremist view of ... continue reading

UPDATE: Did the U.S. military actually know they were bombing the Doctors Without Borders hospital full of innocent people? Watch

Image of The burned Doctors Without Borders hospital following explosions in the city of Kunduz, on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 (Médecins Sans Frontières/AP).


In a log released by Doctors Without Borders on Thursday for a report on the October 3 bombing of its Kunduz, Afghanistan medical facility, it was revealed that the United States military was aware the building was not in use as a Taliban headquarters. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

You won't believe what happened to these misguided teens who joined ISIS Watch

Image of Sabina Selimovic was only 15-years-old when she disappeared from her home in Austria and resurfaced as a married woman in Syria after joining ISIS.


Two Austrian teenagers joined ISIS and became "poster girls" last year. Since then, one has been reportedly beaten to death during an attempt to escape Syria, while the other has been declared missing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The teenagers, Samra Kesinovic ... continue reading

'A stab in the back': Putin accuses Turkey of treachery after Russian warplane shot down Watch

Image of Turkey claims it warned Russian plane ten times before shooting down the Russian warplane (Getty Images).


Russian warplane ignored ten warnings and repeatedly violated Turkey's airspace before being shot down in what Russian president Vladimir Putin has deemed an act of treachery. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Putin claims the downed plane will result in "serious ... continue reading

Russia kills 472 ISIS targets over the weekend Watch

Image of A French Rafale fighter jet takes off (AFP/Getty Images).


This weekend, France launched their first fighter jet attacks on ISIS from their Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. They used Rafale fighter jets to carry out their mission, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 500 ISIS targets within a two-day span. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Writer visits the Islamic State, what he reports will chill you and give you nightmares Watch

Image of Islam is on the march once again, and they do not plan to stop this time.


German author Jürgen Todenhöfer spent 10 days in the Islamic State, interviewing its fighters and working to understand their aims and ambitions. What he learned will chill you to the bone and give you nightmares. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Jürgen ... continue reading

All Middle East News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Who's really dying? Tragic reports surface revealing Russia kills ...
  • 'I HAVE GIVEN YOU FULL WARNING.' Dark Days - Did Pope Francis just ...
  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • Unbelievable exorcisms: Why is everyone obsessed with them?
  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More