Photo by David Harris

Who says Surrealism began in the 1920s? This whimsically shaped, 3-inch-high clay head was produced by a Late Stone Age Near Eastern people called the Yarmukians. Since 1989, archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Michele Miller have unearthed hundreds of similar examples of the Yarmukians’ playful and elegant artwork in their excavations at the Neolithic settlement of Sha‘ar Hagolan (in Israel’s Jordan Valley just south of the Sea of Galilee). They have also discovered the remnants of ancient tools, stone buildings and city streets, suggesting that the Yarmukians—who lived 8,000 years ago, or about 3,000 years before the invention of writing—did not quite live up to the barbarous image sometimes associated with Stone Age life.