A learned local politician once mused that if Israel had oil reserves on a scale consummate with its archeological treasures we’d be doing all right. Judging by the items on display at the Face to Face exhibition, which opened this week at the Israel Museum and will run until September 13, there is more than a little collateral for the monetary-ancient finds analogy.

To give it its full name, Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World, is a golden opportunity to get an eyeful – as the second part of the title implies – of some simply fascinating artifacts. The full lineup includes 12 Neolithic masks, all found in and around the Negev. More specifically, the masks date from around the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B era, and were created as far back as 9,000 years ago.

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