Archaeologists have dug out a ‘magic wand’ with two realistic human faces carved into it believed to be 9,000 years old. The strange discovery was made in southern Syria near a graveyard where about 30 beheaded people were buried.
Experts believe it may have been used as part of an ancient burial ritual to summon ‘supernatural beings’. ‘The find is very unusual. It’s unique,’ said study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. They are confused by the discovery.
The wand, believed to be used in a long-lost funeral ritual, is one of the only naturalistic depictions of human faces from this time and place, he told Livescience. The wand was first uncovered during excavations in 2007 and 2009 at a site in southern Syria called Tell Qarassa.
Other evidence from the site suggests the ancient inhabitants were amongst the world’s first farmers, consuming emmer (a type of wheat), barley, chickpeas and lentils, and herding or hunting goats, gazelles, pigs and deer. ‘It’s clearly linked to funerary rituals, but what kind of rituals, it’s impossible to tell,’ Braemer told Live Science.
Similar discoveries were made in Jericho, Israel, dating to around 9,000 years ago, where the skulls of ancestors were covered with plaster and painted with facial features. Experts assume the practice was a form of ancestor worship, in which the human faces represented the living presence of supernatural beings in a humanized form.