|Clay, Neolithic period, Late 7th Millennium B.C.E., From Israel (excavated at Sha'ar Hagolan). On loan from the Israeli Antiquities Authority to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.|
The Yarmukian culture was a Neolithic culture, the first culture in prehistoric Israel, dating to circa 6400–6000 BC. The archeological site was first discovered in the 1930's, but excavation did not begin until 1949 by a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Moshe Stekelis. The site was again excavated in 1989–90, 1996–2004), by another team from the same University and led by Yosef Garfinkel . The dig's official website can be found here.
A large number of extraordinary figurines have been unearthed at this Neolithic site, artifacts that continue to puzzle modern day researchers.
The official perspective concerning these pieces is that they are 'highly stylized' pieces of art, and may be symbolic of fertility. I will allow you to form your own opinions about these artifacts, but I will say that I feel it is at least possible these pieces are not 'highly stylized' pieces of art, instead, as remarkable as it may seem, these figurines may have been crafted to depict just what the artists were looking at while they molded clay between their fingers.
|This is a figurine head, broken off from the rest of the piece.|
Below is a figurine of what looks very much like a terrier breed of dog. Note this piece does not appear to be stylized at all, but an accurate representation of the popular breed.