Roman Goat Figurine

Goat Head

One of the most beautiful archaeological finds discovered in the Temple Mount Sifting  Project is a clay statuette in the form of a goat’s head.

The statuette is made of a pale, cream colored clay. Despite its tiny dimensions (30X25 mm.), we can distinguish each and every detail in the goat’s

Goat Head

Goat Head

face, with the exception of an ear that has broken off. Note the precise representation of the remaining ear, the eyes, the mouth and the hairs, which have been carefully carved.

Where the goat’s horns are supposed to be, we can see only two holes that once held the statuette’s horns, which were perhaps made of colored stone, wood, the bone of some animal, or some other material.

The statuette’s back is flat to enable the owner to affix it to some object or surface; however, nothing has remained that could tell us anything about that object or surface.

The high quality of the statuette’s sculpting is especially characteristic of the Roman period; however, as long as no other identical objects have been found, the statuette’s dating will remain a mystery.

Jerusalem’s Jewish population was known for its strict compliance with the biblical prohibition against making idols or graven images. Considering the place where the statuette was found – namely, on the Temple Mount – it is not unreasonable to assume that it fell out of the pocket of one of the soldiers in the Roman Legion stationed in Jerusalem before and after the destruction of the Temple. It is quite possible that the statuette is a remnant from a pagan ritual because, in Roman mythology, the goat is associated with the god Pan, in whose honor the Temple of Pan and the Dancing Gods was erected in Caesarea Philippi, known today as Banias, which is an Arabic corruption of the name Pan.

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