Photo Credit: Assaf Peretz / IAA

by Mara Vigevani

A 10-year-old boy has been awarded a certificate of good citizenship after turning in a rare fertility statuette that he found during a trip to the Upper Galilee.

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Itamar Barnea, from Kibbutz Malkiya near the Lebanese border found the 23x25x37 millimeter statuette, carved from a pebble, dating back to the Neolithic period.

Barnea found the statuette some two years ago, and last month his mother, Reut, found the figurine and decided to show it to archeologist Dr. Renate Rosenthal-Heginbottom, who brought it to the Israel Antiquities Authority to check if it has any archaeological significance.

Dr. Yanir Milavsky, Head of the Prehistoric Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority was very surprised when he saw the finding, only the third of its kind found in the country.

“We were surprised when we were presented with the rare figurine, which is about 11,500 years old,” said Milavsky.

“The figurine represents the figure of a pregnant woman and was made through a process of rubbing and engraving. The rounded head has been engraved, like the feet. Two similar figurines (but not identical) were found at Nahal Oren in the Carmel and Salvia in the Jordan Rift Valley. These sites date back to the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic period – about 11,000 years ago,” he added.

Some experts believe the figurine may have been an amulet that represents “the Mother Goddess.”

“During the Neolithic period in the Near East and South Levant people moved to permanent settlements, engaged in agriculture and began to domesticate animals. The issue of fertility in human society was fundamental,” said Milavsky.

As for 10-year-old Itamar, after presenting him a certificate of “good citizenship” from the IAA, Milavsky said he has a “promising future in researching the history of the ancient cultures of the region.”

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