A 9,000-year-old mask, the oldest art object ever to be auctioned off at Christie’s, could sell for up to $600,000 when it goes up for auction in June, the auction house said today.
The extremely rare Neolithic limestone mask is one of the earliest sculptural types to survive from antiquity.
“Only very few of these masks are known,” said Molly Morse Limmer, head of Christie’s Antiquities department in New York. “All were found in the Judean desert, all were carved of limestone, and all represent the human skull.”
The Judean desert’s extreme dry conditions helped preserve the 9,000-year-old mask. It’s function is not known, but Limmer said its origins date back to a time when complex societies were first evolving.
“No doubt they represent one of the earliest human attempts to connect with the spiritual world,” she said. “Given the skeletal representation, it would be logical that they relate to death rituals or ancestor worship.”
The nine-inch 9,000-year-old mask, which is being sold by a collector in New York, will be part of Christie’s antiquities sale on June 8, when about 260 lots are expected to fetch approximately $8 million.
Other highlights of the June 8 sale include a Greek bronze mirror circa 300 to 350 B.C. which is estimated to sell for $600K – $900K, as well as two Roman works of art, each expected to sell for as much as $500,000.
Learn more about this rare 9,000-year-old mask at Christie’s official website here.