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6,000-Year-Old Cave Painting Mystifies Experts

A mysterious cave mural, scientifically dated to 6,000 years ago, was on display in Jerusalem in November but, by now, may be back in storage. First discovered in the 1930s in an archaeological dig at Jordan’s Teleilat el-Ghassul, just east of the Jordan River and north of the Dead Sea. “The Ghassulian Star” has been under lock and key in Jerusalem’s Rockefeller museum ever since, ostensibly because of its fragile condition. A satisfactory explanation of its anomalous imagery, however, is yet to be forthcoming from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, or anyone else.

The mural shows a precisely drafted eight-pointed star accompanied by several cruder human—and animal-like figures who appear to be wearing goggles. The orthodox view is that the ‘star’ represents the sun and must have been part of some solar ritual. According to mainstream archaeology, the artist or artists were likely hunter-gatherers, a thousand years before the invention of writing or cities, but that hardly explains the image. Despite what appears to be an effort, in some quarters, to dismiss it as entirely primitive, others are struck by the star’s very exact drawing, and startling similarity to a multitude of eight-pointed stars at the heart of many traditions, including Masonic, Islamic, etc., commonly believed to have originated millennia later. Known throughout the Mesopotamian region as the ‘Star of Ishtar,’ it represented the planet Venus and was symbolically important in other ways. While there may be no connection, one may be forgiven for wondering if the difficulties of conventional science in explaining such facts have anything to do with the mural’s long exile from public view.

CAPTIONS: Ghassulian Star on display in Jerusalam. Modern reproduction of the Ghassulian Star at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem (courtesy of the Pontifical Biblical Institute). The Star of Ishtar in the floor of the Los Angeles Masonic Library.