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Rare 9,000-year-old mask up for auction

A 9,000-year-old limestone mask will become the oldest object to ever go up for auction at Christie's this June.
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The Christie''s logo is displayed over the entrance of the auction house July 13, 2001 on Old Brompton Street in London, England. (Sion Touhig/AFP/Getty Images)

A 9,000 year old limestone mask will become the oldest object to ever go up for auction at Christie's this June. 

The famous auction house told Reuters, the mask could sell for upwards of $600,000. 

"Only very few of these masks are known. All were found in the Judean desert, all were carved of limestone, and all represent the human skull," said Molly Morse Limmer, head of Christie's Antiquities department in New York.

The mask, which resembles a human skull, is oval in shape with cut-out eyes, says the Christie's website. It has raised cheekbones, with a slender triangular nose with two small groves for nostrils and an open mouth that reveals the teeth.

The rare Neolithic limestone mask is one of the earliest sculptural types to survive from antiquity, Reuters reported. 

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Australia's ABC News noted that the Judean desert's extreme dry conditions probably helped to preserve the mask.

While the true purpose of the mask is unknown, Limmer ventured a guess that the mask was spiritual in nature.

"No doubt they represent one of the earliest human attempts to connect with the spiritual world. Given the skeletal representation, it would be logical that they relate to death rituals or ancestor worship," Limmer told Reuters. 

Christie's also found small holes drilled into the side of the mask, suggesting there was either hair attached to the mask, or that the mask could have been attached to a pillar, a person's face, or attached to a statue. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/rare-9000-year-old-mask-auction

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