The Human Clay Figurines And Ancient Near Eastern Magic
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The chapter analyses the forty-nine Pre-Pottery Neolithic B and Yarmoukian anthropomorphic clay figurines. The first part of the study documents the collection: the number of artifacts, their types, style, material, manufacture, surface treatment, and firing. The figurines are then related to their context: their spatial distribution and place in the stratigraphy, their relation to the remainder of the assemblage, and their parallels elsewhere in the Near East. The second part addresses the possible function of the figurines. The objects are shown to match the criteria denoting the perennial ancient Near Eastern magical practices, as described in the cuneiform literature.
‘Ain Ghazal is a Neolithic site located near Amman, Jordan. It was excavated between 1982 and 1998 by an American-Jordanian team directed by Gary O. Rollefson, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wa. and Zeidan Kafafi, the University of Yarmouk at Irbid, Jordan. ‘Ain Ghazal was first settled about 7250 B.C., during the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period. In a matter of a few centuries the village of stone houses had spread over 30 acres along the Zarqa River. During a prosperous period when the mixed economy increasingly relied on farming, ca. 7250-6000 B.C., ‘Ain Ghazal witnessed what can be termed an explosion of symbolism. The site was abandoned in the Yarmoukian period ca. 5000 BC. The volume deals with the uniquely rich and varied ‘Ain Ghazal assemblage of symbols including tokens of many shapes, animal and human figurines, modeled human skulls, plaster statues and, mural and floor paintings.