During excavations at the archaeological site of Shaar HaGolan in the Jordan Valley, archaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old cult figurine. The figurine depicts a pagan mother goddess and belongs to the ancient Yarmukian culture.
The Yarmukians lived in these parts even before the Israelis and Palestinians, the ancient Romans and Greeks, and the Kingdom of Judah. Their culture dates back to the Neolithic and is considered the first prehistoric culture that existed in what is now Israel.
What was the pagan mother goddess?
The Yarmuk culture existed from 6400 to 5800 BC. The Yarmukians were at the stage of mankind’s transition from a gathering culture to a permanent settlement.
They were engaged in agriculture, growing wheat and barley, raising livestock, handicrafts, and making ceramic dishes. Their jugs, bowls, bowls, and plates were distinguished by a very characteristic herringbone pattern, as well as horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, which the ancient masters usually applied with red paint.
Figurines of the Mother Goddess are also a hallmark of this culture. As in some other pagan beliefs, among the people who lived here in ancient times, such a figure symbolized fertility. Yarmukians believed that the mother-grandmother was able to send them abundance and contribute to the birth of healthy, strong offspring.
Assembled from two parts
The excavations were carried out in Kibbutz Shaar Hagolan (this is the largest Yarmuk monument and, possibly, the center of the ancient settlement located), near the Yarmuk River, which gave the name to the ancient culture. The figurine found is a schematic depiction of a woman. The figurine is made of clay, and the size of the artifact is 20 centimeters. The woman is shown in a sitting position. They found it near the wall of the house, and not entirely, but split into two parts.
Excavation co-director Shaar Hagolan and Dr Julien Viegue of the French Research Center, with whom the excavations were carried out, confirmed to reporters that the artifact belongs to the Yarmouk culture.
The bottom of the figurine is painted red, which symbolizes fertility in the ancient Yarmuk culture. Interestingly, archaeologists found a stone on which eyes and a mouth were carved next to the figurine of a mother-woman.
Archaeologists have previously found similar figurines of the Mother Goddess here, but the one found now is one of the largest. The woman has wide hips, a pointed hat, dark eyes, and a large nose. One of her hands rests on her hip, and the other is under her breasts.
As one of the leaders of the archaeological work, Anna Eirich-Rose, explains, every small detail of this pagan figurine has a certain meaning in the Yarmuk culture and is symbolic. The very process of creating such a figurine is very complicated. It involves a special procedure of wrapping and applying clay in layers around a center in the shape of a core.
The giant settlement keeps many secrets
The Shaar Hagolan site, excavated in the middle of the last century, was identified as belonging to the Yarmuk culture by Professor of the Hebrew University Moshe Stekelis.
The last excavations were carried out here at the beginning of the 2000s and were completed in 2004. Then it was possible to clear an area of about 3 thousand square meters and find about 1 million stone artifacts, 90 thousand fragments of ceramic products, and fifty thousand animal bones. Also, during the excavations, a total of more than a hundred clay figurines were found.
The current excavations at this site were started next to the previous ones. Their goal is to clear away layer after layer to reach the Neolithic pre-ceramic level, to explore the ancient culture and production of pottery (this was the first culture to make such pottery on an “industrial” scale, and not as single pieces).
This figurine’s discovery will help scientists learn more about the ancient culture. First, samples of the material from which it is made will be examined, based on which scientists will draw conclusions about how the composition was in clay products of that time. Secondly, in the course of further research of this and other statuettes of the Mother Goddess found, scientists will try to determine whether this image was used only in the cult practices of the ancient Yarmukians or whether it was part of established religion.
There are many mysteries on Israeli soil. For example, people are trying to understand where the mysterious Dead Sea funnels come from. Some consider these recent mysterious sinkholes to be a miracle of nature, while others warn of an ecological catastrophe.