A marble statue of a ram found on Christmas Eve along the Mediterranean coast of Israel made archaeologists wonder about what it represented and who hand-carved it.
The Israel Antiquities Authority stated that archaeologists are still unsure whether the statue – uncovered December 24 – was carved by a Byzantine individual, or by Romans.
The ram statue was found 25 miles (40 km) away from Haifa (largest city in northern Israel) during the excavation of a church located in Caesarea Harbor National Park.
Dr. Peter Gendelman, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Mohammad Hater of the IAA, said that Caesarea Harbor National Park never ceases to surprise archaeologists with its hidden treasures.
The original carvings can still be seen on the statue which is 1.3 feet tall (40 cm) and one foot long (30 cm). According to the archaeologists, the curly horns and textured fleece of the marble ram can also be seen.
Since there is a verse in the New Testament of the Bible in which Jesus is referred to as a lamb, it is likely that the marble ram was hand-carved for religious purposes, the archaeologists stated. The verse goes like this: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In Christian art, lambs and rams are often used to portray faithful Christians, and even Jesus himself, stated the Israel Antiquities Authority. Ancient artisans used to depict rams on the right or left side of Jesus Christ. Christian art also shows rams around the shoulders of the “Good Shepherd”.
Dr. Gendelman said that in ancient Christianity, people usually portrayed Jesus as a ram (as well as other symbols), instead of a person.
Other cultures have also used rams as symbols. For instance, the Roman god Mercury and the Greek god Herms were also depicted alongside rams. The same can be seen with Amun, an Egyptian god.
The ram statue could be from the Roman period; it might also have been part of the Byzantine church (from sixth to seventh century A.D.) where it was found, according to Dr. Gendelman and Hater. Researchers have also discovered another 9,500-year-old limestone ram in modern-day Israel.
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