Courtesy Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums

Eternally mute musicians: This pottery stand is from the Mediterranean coastal site of Ashdod. About 13.5 inches high, the tenth-century B.C. stand incorporates both Philistine and Canaanite artistic elements. Of the five figures that appear in the base, two can be seen clearly. One figure, left, plays a tambourine, the other, right, blows on a double pipe. An animal”s body, possibly a cow with its tail hanging down, appears in abstract form as the rectangle above the tambourine player. The animal”s head protrudes into the hole; a similar rectangle can be seen above the piper.

The association of religion and music embodied in this stand recalls the passage in 1 Samuel 10:5: “After that you shall come to the hill of God, where there is a garrison of the Philistines; and there … you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying.”