A 9,000-year-old mask from the Neolithic area is scheduled for auction this summer at Christie's. The item, which is one of the oldest objects to ever see the sales floor at the prestigious auction house, is constructed of limestone, and was fashioned to resemble a human skull. Experts are anticipating the piece to go for nearly $600,000, though this number could increase or decrease depending on buyer demand. After all, it is kind of cool.
According to Christie's representatives, the mask has small holes along its perimeter, which could have been used to attach the piece to someone's face. Alternatively, these openings have may allowed someone to hang it on the wall as a decoration.
This sort of mask is particularly rare. Although others were thought to have existed at some point in time, very few remain intact. Molly Morse Limmer, head of Christie's Antiquities department in New York, says that the Judean desert's dry climate is what helped preserve the item for so many years. However, nobody, including Limmer, seems to know what purpose the mask served upon its creation.
"No doubt they represent one of the earliest human attempts to connect with the spiritual world," the antiquities expert explained. "Given the skeletal representation, it would be logical that they relate to death rituals or ancestor worship."
The mask is one of 260 items that will be up for auction on June 8th in New York City.
Image courtesy of Christie's Auction House