Jack Finegan

Painted pebbles arranged in a crescent shape were found in underground dwellings dating from the Chalcolithic Age (fourth millennium B.C.) near Beersheba at Tell Abu Matar. Fourteen in number, these flat stones were all individually marked with red ocher after the pebbles were arranged into their crescent shape. Most of the marks on the pebbles are in the form of a cross, which was thought to ward off evil spirits. This is one of the earliest known uses of the cross as a talisman or a sign of protection.