A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
A 6,500-year-old burial cave full of clay ossuaries, ceramic and stone vessels, figurines thought to have been ritual objects, and piles of human skulls and bones has been discovered in Galilee in northern Israel. Until now, archaeologists believed that Chalcolithic cultures in different parts of Israel were more or less self-sufficient. But clay jugs found at the new site are similar to those uncovered in the Golan Heights, and bronze ax heads are like those from the Judean Desert, suggesting some interaction between cultures. The ossuaries, however, are unique. "Decorated ossuary facades characteristic of this period that depict human faces are flat, with protruding noses," says Zvi Gal, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern Region. "Here we found three-dimensional sculpted heads, with distinct eyes, noses, and ears, unlike any ever found."