Bowl with Pair of Ibex

Bowl with pair of ibex
Beth Shean Valley, Israel
Early Canaanite period, 3500-3000 BCE
H: 20 cm; Diam. 34.5 cm
Israel Antiquities Authority
Accession number: IAA 1987-1394

This elaborate bowl was discovered along with other, less ornate basalt bowls in a burial cave in the Beth Shean valley. While it is the largest of its type ever to have come to light, it nonetheless fits in well with the other basalt bowls from the Early Canaanite period in the Land of Israel. These bowls are characterized by one remarkable feature: perfectly round bodies rising from square bases. The basalt industry, which owing to the hardness of the stone, required great skill, dates back to Chalcolithic times. Even then artisans had already achieved impressive results. The "guilds" of the Chalcolithic period may very well have continued into the Canaanite period. On two of the vessel's four sides, an ibex is carved in relief. The ibex was one of the most common animals in the Land of Israel, decorating numerous objects from the Chalcolithic period. This bowl was undoubtedly used in a cultic ceremony, perhaps of a funerary nature, as it was found in a burial cave.

The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Pidem Fund, London