A group of objects made of hippopotamus tusks was discovered in Beersheba. In a workshop found in a subterranean dwelling, a complete canine tooth was revealed, together with a stone worktable, cutters' tools and ivory splinters. This evidence of a local ivory industry, in addition to the large number and variety of ivory objects that were found, suggests the existence of a prolific and creative school of highly skilled artisans.
Carved from a single piece of tusk, this mysterious figurine - beautifully preserved though headless and missing part of the right arm - is a nude female, apparently in an advanced state of pregnancy, with a large circular aperture in the place of her navel. Her hands rest on her hips, and her legs are slightly flexed as if moving; her pubic hairs are marked by drill holes, which were probably originally filled with bitumen or another material. The figurine, which is curiously lifelike, has a smooth, highly-polished surface. It somewhat resembles Egyptian Predynastic ivories.
Treasures of the Holy Land, Ancient Art from the Israel Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005
Beauty and Sanctity: the Israel Museum at 40. A Series of Exhibitions Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Zalmona, Yigal, 2006
The Beauty of Sanctity: Masterworks from Every Age, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Upper Israeli, Main building, 29/03/2005 - 12/11/2005
A Brief History of Humankind, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 01/05/2015 - 02/01/2016