Stone-age animal figurines unearthed outside Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM — Two ancient animal figurines, one the image of a ram and the second a wild bovine, have been discovered in excavations near Jerusalem.

The Stone Age statuettes, estimated to be between 9,000 and 9,500 years old, may have been charms for successful hunting, according to archaeologists.

The items were found by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Tel Moza, s between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

“It is known that hunting was the major activity in this period,” Hamoudi Khalaily, director of the dig, said. The figurines “may have been the focus of a traditional ceremony the hunters performed.”

An alternative theory presented by Khalaily’s research partner, archaeologist Anna Eirikh, links the figurines to animal domestication.

The sculpture in the shape of a ram with twisted horns was fashioned from limestone.

“The sculpting is extraordinary and precisely depicts details of the animal’s image,” Khalaily said. “The head and horns protrude in front of the body and their proportions are extremely accurate.”

The second figurine is made from dolomite and is of an abstract design. It depicts a large animal with prominent horns that emerge from the middle of the head sideward and resemble those of a wild bovine or buffalo.

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