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HOME : Biblical Antiquities : Chalcolithic Artefacts : Golan Basalt Altar in the Form of a Bird-Headed Deity
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Golan Basalt Altar in the Form of a Bird-Headed Deity - CK.0530
Origin: Golan, Israel
Circa: 4000 BC to 3000 BC
Dimensions: 13.25" (33.7cm) high
Collection: Biblical
Medium: Basalt


Location: United States
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Description
This imposing basalt altar dates from the Chalcolithic era, the intermediate period after the advent of stone tools and before the beginning of the Bronze Age. This was an age of experimentation, when metalworking was slowly perfected, giving rise to the Bronze Age. This large and powerful work is one of the earliest examples of religious art from a region that would become known as the Holy Lands. The large beak-like nose is emphasized as the seat of the breath of life. Here, the simple yet essential act of breathing is suggested. It is through breath that we are endowed with life. As such, the prominent beak seeks to endow the cold, hard stone with the warmth of life. Wings project slightly from the body of the altar, heightening the avian quality of the work. Libations and offerings to the gods would have been placed in the shallow concave bowl on top of the head, likely to insure the continued prosperity of crops. Thus this work was a result of religious superstition that sought to link the forces of nature with the actions of civilization. By worshipping this avian deity, the ancient peoples of Golan hoped to influence the god, to gain their benevolent favor, and to dissuade their wrath. Even in our modern era, such superstitions persist as good luck charms. This ancient sculpture touches the very foundations human emotions, our fear of disaster and determination to understand the natural world around us. - (CK.0530)

 

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