Itamar Berna and the 11,500-year-old figurine.
(photo credit: ASAF PERETZ/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)
A curious-looking stone discovered by an eight-year-old child while hiking in the Upper Galilee has been identified by the Antiquities Authority as an extremely rare, 11,500-year-old fertility figurine, only the third of its kind found in the country.
Itamar Berna, from Kibbutz Malkiya near the Israel-Lebanon border, discovered the figurine two years ago while hiking between nearby Tel Kedesh and Nahal Dishon and returned home with his discovery.
One month ago, Itamar’s mother, Reut, discovered the subsequently-forgotten figurine while organizing the family house. She showed it to archaeologist Dr. Renate Rosenthal-Heginbottom, who passed it on to the IAA for identification purposes.
“We were taken aback when we were presented with the rare figurine... Probably only the third known of its kind in the country, and approximately 11,500-years-old,” explained Dr. Yanir Milavsky, head of the authority’s prehistoric department.
“It represents a figure of a pregnant woman, and was created by chiseling and rubbing it against the stones of the stream floor,” he added.
“Two similar figurines, although not identical, were found in Nahal Oren in the Carmel and in the Jordan Rift Valley. These sites are estimated to date back to the early pre-pottery Neolithic period, approximately 11,000 years ago.”
The figurines, he explained, symbolized human fertility, with some researchers believing they depict a mother goddess. They were likely to have been used as amulets.
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Milavsky commended Berna, now 10-years-old, and his family for their “good citizenship” but encouraged members of the public to call the Antiquities Authority immediately upon discovering potentially important findings.
“It is important to report [the finding] to the Antiquities Authority from the site of the discovery itself, so that the archaeologists can produce the maximum information from the site of the discovery,” he said.
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