9,000-year-old mask stuns archaeologists
– '...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.
[....] “The transition from an economy based on hunting and gathering to ancient agriculture and domestication of plants and animals was accompanied by a change in social structure and a sharp increase in ritual-religious activities,”...
Alan Simmons... Once you get larger populations and more people living in one place, you need some social control. That’s why you start to see more formalized, ritual behavior.” Other indicators of ritual behavior from this period include human figurines and plastered skulls...'