Scepter with Grooved Shaft

Scepter with grooved shaft decorated in a human head and three elongated bosses

Scepter with Grooved Shaft Decorated in a Human Head and Three Elongated Bosses
H. 13.2 cm; Diam. (Shaft) 1.9 cm
Naḥal Mishmar, 4500–3600 BCE
Israel Antiquities Authority: 1961-84, exhibited at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Photography by Elie Posner © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Nahal Mishmar hoard contained eleven copper artifacts, called scepters or standards. The scepters, ceremonial staffs traditionally see by rulers as a symbol of their power, are each distinct in decoration, usually with raised patterns on the shaft and often with more ornate decoration at the highest point. All have a hollow core for the insertion of a wooden staff at the bottom, which was found still intact in some. They appear to be the accoutrements of an elaborate ceremonial display. This scepter, decorated with a pronounced nose, engraved eyes and schematic ears, shares the same repertoire of artistic tradition that characterizes the Copper Age in Southern Levant.