Haifa Music Museum and Amli Library

A charming pottery figurine holding a frame-drum, this eighth century B.C. find is from Tel Shikmona on the coast south of Haifa. Though the head is cast from a mold, all the other features are shaped by hand. The figurine’s bell-shaped body was not intact but has been restored based on the design of similar figurines. The extant height of the figurine was 9.5 inches (24 cm).

Though probably an accident of crafting, the drum is unusual in that the beating hand seems to be striking it from the inner side. It should be noted that the ancient frame-drums did not have metal discs mounted into the frame as do Near Eastern tambourines of today.

The Biblical term for the frame-drum is tof. It is usually described as being played by women. Pottery figurines holding frame-drums were common in the earlier centuries of the first millennium B.C. Most of them seem to represent not an earthly player but a goddess whose attribute was such a drum.