Jerusalem, Nov 27 Archaeologists have unearthed a unique 3,800-year-old ceramic vessel bearing the sculpture of a pensive-looking person in the Israeli city of Yehud.
The vessel was discovered together with daggers, an axe head and arrowheads that were apparently buried as funerary offerings for one of the respected members of the ancient settlement, researchers said.
The small extraordinary jug from the Middle Bronze Age was unveiled in an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological excavation that was recently conducted in the city of Yehud.
"It seems that at first the jug, which is typical of the period, was prepared, and afterwards the unique sculpture was added, the likes of which have never before been discovered in previous research," said Gilad Itach, excavation director at Israel Antiquities Authority.
The ceramic vessel is 18 centimetres high and bears the image of a person. The face of the figure seems to be resting on its hand as if in a state of reflection. "The level of precision and attention to detail in creating this almost 4,000 year old sculpture is extremely impressive," Itach said.
"The neck of the jug served as a base for forming the upper portion of the figure, after which the arms, legs and a face were added to the sculpture," he said.
It is unclear if the figure was made by the potter who prepared the jug or by another craftsman. In addition to the unique pottery vessel, other vessels and metal items were found such as daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones and what are very likely the bones of a donkey.
It was customary in antiquity to believe that the objects that were interred alongside the individuals continued with them into the next world.
"To the best of my knowledge such a rich funerary assemblage that also includes such a unique pottery vessel has never before been discovered in the country," said Itach.
A variety of evidence regarding the kind of life that existed there 6,000 years ago was also exposed.
Among other things, pits and shafts were unveiled that contained thousands of fragments of pottery vessels, hundreds of flint and basalt implements, animal bones, and a churn which is a unique vessel that was widely used in the Chalcolithic period for making butter.