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Mask

Mask

Mask

Stone

L: 22.5; W: 15.6; Th: 6.6 cm

Gift of Laurence and Wilma Tisch, New York, purchasers of the Dayan Collection

Accession number:

82.2.71

Archaeology/Prehistoric Periods

This carved stone mask depicting a human face belongs to a rare group of masks from the Neolithic Period that were discovered in the Judean Desert and on its fringes and are considered to be the oldest masks in the world. Based on their similarity to the plastered and decorated skulls that have come to light at sites of the same period, scholars assume that the masks represented the spirits of the dead and were used in religious-social ceremonies, such as ancestor cults, and in magical rites related to healing and divination.

From the Israel Museum publications:

Ornan, Tallay, A Man and His Land, Highlights from the Moshe Dayan Collection, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1986

3x50@50: IMJ Collection Highlights, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2015

Exhibitions:

In the Beginning: Prehistory and the Origins of Myth, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 13/07/2005 - 22/04/2006

Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 11/03/2014 - 11/09/2014