Richard Nowitz

Omega shapes appear in a tomb headrest. A number of headrests like this one were carved on the stone burial benches in the late First Temple period tomb complex beneath the St. Etienne monastery in Jerusalem. BAR authors Gabriel Barkay and Amos Kloner contend that these headrests mimic the wig style of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. Othmar Keel counters that the motif comes not from Egypt to the west, but from Mesopotamia to the east. (See photograph of Babylonian terra-cotta). The tomb headrests and the omega shapes in the terra-cotta, says author Keel, symbolize the womb of mother earth.