Archaeologists in Israel have announced the discovery of an extremely rare 9,000-year-old stone mask, Fox News reports.
The mask, which dates back to the Neolithic period, was found by a settler walking in the hills south of Hebron, on the West Bank, according to Haaretz. In a statement released Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed that the mask was discovered several months ago.
At the start of 2018, the IAA’s Antiques Theft Prevention Unit received information that led to the mask’s recovery.
“Discovering a mask made of stone, at such a high level of finish, is very exciting,” said Ronit Lupu of the IAA Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, in the statement. “The stone has been completely smoothed over and the features are perfect and symmetrical, even delineating cheekbones. It has an impressive nose and a mouth with distinct teeth.”
Similar in size to a human face, the mask may be connected to ancestor worship, according to Lupu.
The artifact is now being studied by experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Geological Survey of Israel.
The mask is the latest fascinating archaeological discovery in Israel. A previously unknown 1,500-year-old painting of Christ’s face, for example, was recently uncovered at a Byzantine church in the Negev desert.