An unique ancient staff made of bone and carved with two human faces found back in 2007 in Tell Qarassa, Syria, still puzzles researchers regarding its nature and scope, according to a recent article in the March issue of the journal Antiquity.
The object was located near a necropolis on the site of Tell Qarassa, where an artificial mound made from the debris of everyday human life gradually built up in layers over millennia. The site is also connected with early farming activity, with its inhabitants consuming emmer (a type of wheat), barley, chickpeas and lentils, and herding or hunting goats, gazelles, pigs and deer.
Despite the settlement’s normality, its necropolis near which where the 9,000-year-old wand was discovered is somehow unusual. There, about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space. In detail, after the skeletons and wand were buried, someone seems to have dug up and removed the skulls, placing them in the inhabited portion of the settlement.
The wand itself was likely carved from the rib of an auroch, the wild ancestor of cows, and is about 4.7 inches (12 cm) long. Two natural-looking faces, with eyes closed, were carved into the bone, though the wand was intentionally broken at both ends, with more faces likely originally adorning the staff.
Day after day I see it collapsing and I feel that a piece of the puzzle of our country’s history is being lost.
Watch this multimedia feature of the Louvre to take a closer look at this masterful composition.