Horned figurines made of stone from the neolithic and chalcolithic periods and the domestication of sheep and goat

Katharina Streit*, Yosef Garfinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


At the time of writing, fourteen horned figurines made of stone have been uncovered in eight archaeological sites of the Levant and southern Anatolia dating to the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods (6th and 5th millennium cal BC). Their striking stylistic similarity, together with their low frequency, requires a detailed analysis. The figurines, produced of locally accessible stone, feature the head of a horned animal with characteristic spiralling horns. No comparable figurines manufactured of a different raw material like clay or ivory have been uncovered. Three typological groups can be distinguished based on the shape of the horns, possibly identified as Capra falconeri (Group 1) and Ovis aries orientalis (Groups 2 and 3) in different degrees of stylization. Recent genetic studies demonstrate that these species were progenitors of the domestic sheep and goat, respectively. Figurines of the second and third typological groups are pierced, which suggests that they were worn as personal ornaments. This paper draws attention to these figurines as a coherent group and suggests some possible meanings in proto-historic society. Their stylistic homogeneity is tentatively ascribed to a shared iconographic language across the Levant at the onset of agriculture.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Palestine Exploration Fund 2015.


  • Anatolia
  • Chalcolithic
  • Domestication
  • Levant
  • Neolithic
  • Zoomorphic figurines


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