Ritual Wand with Human Face

A Wand with Human Face

Image: A Wand with Human Faces

Credit: Juan José Ibáñex

Archaeologists digging at Tell Qarassa, a site in Syria, have discovered an ancient staff dated to around 7,000 B.C., carved with human faces. The wand was discovered in a graveyard where the remains of thirty people were found. The people in the grave had been decapitated and their heads were found in a room near the grave.

The report of the discovery was published by Juan José Ibáñex in an article “The human face and the origins of the Neolithic: the carved bone wand from Tell Qarassa, North Syria.” The article was published in Antiquity 88, Issue 339 (March 2014): 81-94.

The purpose of the bone wand carved with human faces is unknown. According to an article published in Live Science, “One possibility is that the practice was a form of ancestor worship, in which the human faces represented the living presence of supernatural beings in a humanized form.”

As for the severed heads, it is possible that the heads were considered to be trophies of war in which the conquering army would cut off the heads of their enemies.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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