Skip to main content

A New Look at the Berekhat Ram Figurine: Implications for the Origins of Symbolism

  • Francesco d'Errico (a1) and April Nowell (a2)

This article addresses the nature of the evidence for symbolling behaviour among hominids living in the Near East during the Middle and Upper Pleistocene. Traditionally, Palaeolithic art and symbolling have been synonymous with the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe. The Berekhat Ram figurine, a piece of volcanic material from a Lower Palaeolithic site in Israel, described as purposely modified to produce human features, challenges the view of a late emergence of symbolic behaviour. The anthropogenic nature of these modifications, however, is controversial. We address this problem through an examination of volcanic material from the Berekhat Ram site and from other sources, and by experimentally reproducing the modifications observed on the figurine. We also analyze this material and the figurine itself through optical and SEM microscopy. Our conclusion is that this object was purposely modified by hominids.

With comments from Ofer Bar-Yosef, Angela E. Close, João Zilhão, Steven Mithen, Thomas Wynn, and Alexander Marshack followed by a reply from the authors.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • ISSN: 0959-7743
  • EISSN: 1474-0540
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 199 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 521 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.