9,000-year-old mask stuns archaeologists, raises eyebrows
The rare discovery was greeted with excitement but revived strong concern about the authenticity of these mysterious Neolithic artifacts.
With their vacant eyes and enigmatic, toothy expressions, the 9,000-year-old stone masks from the area around the southern Judean desert are among the region’s most compelling and distinctive artifacts. Adding to that is their rarity: Only 15 examples are known to exist. So, when the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) recently announced the discovery of a sixteenth stone mask, it grabbed the attention of archaeologists and the public alike—but also revived a simmering discussion on the authenticity of these unique objects.
The stone mask was recovered several months ago by the authority’s Theft Prevention Unit, according to an IAA press release. A subsequent investigation led archaeologists back to the “probable archaeological site in which the mask was originally found,” near