Salvage excavations in a Chalcolithic cemetery at Quleh  unearthed a unique male fertility figurine with accentuated genitalia.


The iconography of this object and the circumstances of its discovery suggest additional and hitherto unknown aspects of mortuary behavior within an already rich assemblage of symbolic paraphernalia associated with the Chalcolithic culture/s of the southern Levant.  


The object, found within one of more than a score of ceramic ossuaries in a small burial cave, one eight from the same chrono-cultural period located and excavated within an area of ca. 2 square km. The figurine, of fired clay of local origin, representing a nude male, was found broken in three parts. Its head and the upper part of its torso were located at one end of the ossuary, while the left arm and lower body lay at the opposite end. The end of the penis and the right arm were broken off in antiquity and were not recovered, despite extraordinary efforts made to recover them. Apparently they were not in the cave at the time of excavation. The iconography of the Quleh figurine is different from that of other known Chalcolithic figurines from sites of the Beersheva (Northern Negev facies), that have yielded figurines of bone and ivory showing either extensive Egyptian influence or perhaps even Egyptian origins. However, the head and face of the Quleh figurine do resemble several anthropomorphic features on ceramic Chalcolithic ossuaries found in a burial cave  at Peki`in Upper Galilee in the north of Israel.


The author of this paper suggests that the figurine was purposely buried together with the human bones in the ossuary. Such an interpretation reveals new aspects of burial and cultic beliefs and practices of the Chalcolithic period in the Southern Levant related to the cult of fertility and milk production. The relation between them is illustrated with ethnographic examples.