Photo by David Harris

Over 100 engraved limestone river pebbles, schematically depicting human figures, have been discovered at Sha‘ar Hagolan. These figurines vary in size from only a few inches to over a foot in height. Some of the more detailed figurines, like the 3.5-inch-high example shown here, have a face and some additional incisions suggesting clothing and rounded hips. Most of the pebbles, however, like those in the next photo, are much simpler; we recognize their decoration largely because of the more explicit markings on parallel examples (such as the one shown here). They are marked with only basic facial features, usually a pair of slit-like incisions representing eyes and a sharp puncture representing the mouth. Although limestone pebble figurines have been found at a handful of other Neolithic sites, including ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan and Byblos in Lebanon, Sha‘ar Hagolan has yielded the largest assortment to date. What were they used for? Who do they represent? Only the long-gone Yarmukians know.