9,500-Year-Old Lucky Charm

Image: Yael Yolovitch / Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists in Israel discovered this 9,500-year-old cultic figurine of a ram with spiral horns, carved out of limestone:

The animal figurines were found near the remains of an ancient round building, dating back to a dynamic time in the region's history when humans were transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of farming and settling in villages.

"It is known that hunting was the major activity in this period," Hamoudi Khalaily, co-excavator of the site for the IAA, said in a statement. "Presumably, the figurines served as good-luck statues for ensuring the success of the hunt and might have been the focus of a traditional ceremony the hunters performed before going out into the field to pursue their prey."

Khalaily added that the archaeological evidence from this time period, called the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, including these animal figurines, "teaches us about the religious life, the worship and the beliefs of Neolithic society.

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