Sunday, June 05, 2016

Birds in the Bible and in Ancient Art

In my previous post, I compared actual animals with their representations in Biblical-era art. In this post, I'll add some photos of ancient art objects depicting birds and of actual birds.

The Ibis

Ancient Egyptian Ibis, from Egypt-Caananite era.
Decoration from a deep bowl from Cyprus found at Lachish. 16th-18th C. BCE.
A glossy ibis at the Safari Park. These birds still inhabit this area.


Decorations from the Palace bathhouse, Jericho, 6th C. CE, Persian influence.
We didn't see any partridges when birdwatching in Israel.
camargue_final 1
A partridge from our recent visit to Provence. Since this is a Mediterranean bird, it's probably the same or similar
to those found in the Middle East.


Ostrich Eggs from ancient Negev 6500-5500 BCE, illustrating that ostriches once lived here.
Ostriches at the Safari park are now captives from elsewhere, as
they no longer live in this part of the Middle East.

Birds of Prey and Carrion-Eating Birds

Funerary objects from ancient Israeli graves.
According to the caption on the above display: "Birds of prey [I assume this refers to carrion-eating birds] played an important role in burial. After death, the bodies of the deceased were left in round structures where they were exposed to birds of prey. When the bones were picked clean and any remaining flesh decomposed, they could be gathered and deposited in ossuaries. Birds of prey appear as decorative motifs on a variety of objects. Such objects were presumably used in funerary rites."

Closer look at one of the funerary objects.
A distant common kestrel we saw today -- the only bird of
prey we saw on this trip to Israel.


The laughing dove is the only type of dove we've seen in Israel.
It's a very Biblical bird, but I didn't see it on any ancient art objects.


Paulita said...

I love seeing the depiction and the actual birds.
I have to say that this buoys my opinion that there could have been unicorns once upon a time. After all, they are depicted on tapestries from the Middle Ages. But I guess we would have found their bones somewhere. Sigh.

Jeanie said...

Ostriches fascinate me. But I have to say that ibis is amazing. Love seeing the graphic/sculpted versions.