Collections of the Israel Dept. of Antiquities and Museums/J. Simpson

Ornate orthostat, found in the Syrian village of Ein Samsam. Finely carved from basalt, this architectural fragment features a relief of a man flanked by a lion, left, and by a lioness nursing a cub, right, with eagles standing at each end of the tableau. A sculpted lion’s head and paws embellish the left end of the orthostat, which is 7 feet long, 16 inches high and from 10 to 16 inches thick. The piece may have come originally from Ein Nashut, a Jewish settlement near Ein Samsam, and perhaps served as part of the base of the Torah shrine in the settlement’s Byzantine synagogue.