Ritual Burial of Cultic Objects: The Earliest Evidence

Yosef Garfinkel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


This article deals with the ritual burial of cultic objects in the Near East during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. These items are not grave goods associated with human burials but objects buried on their own because of their ritual significance. A systematic survey of the depositional context of anthropomorphic statues, plastered skulls and other cultic objects from a large number of sites indicates clearly that the earliest evidence for this concept can be traced to the early agricultural communities of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period of the seventh millennium bc. The custom was a ritual institution for the disposal of worn-out and unwanted cultic items. A further analysis of twelve other symbols and artistic components emphasizes the importance of the seventh millennium bc as a formative era for the cult and mythology of the ancient Near East.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)159-188
Number of pages30
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994


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