© The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

EXCARNATION IN MINIATURE. This “crown” of pure copper was among the rich cache of Chalcolithic objects found in the Cave of the Treasure near the Dead Sea. But with a diameter of only 3.5 inches, it is unlikely that the object was ever actually worn as a crown. Rather, Arav believes it is a miniature representation of the round, high-walled structures that were used for excarnation during the Chalcolithic period. The object’s large square opening is the entrance to the structure through which the bodies of the deceased were carried, while the birds attached to its rim are the birds of prey that sat perched atop the structure’s high walls, waiting for their chance to feast on the flesh of deposited corpses. Ibex heads also decorate the object’s rim.