Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Stone sculpture. The natural shape of a calcite cobble has been used to represent the outline of two figures imaking love face to face in a sitting position. Their heads, arms and legs appear as raised areas around which the surface has been picked away. The figures have no faces. The arms of one hug the shoulders of the other and its knees are bent up underneath those of the slightly smaller figure. The image is also phallic in all aspects.


  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 102 millimetres
    • Width: 63 millimetres
    • Depth: 39 millimetres
    • Weight: 343 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    This figurine was found by a Bedouin and sold to the French Fathers at Bethlehem. After its discovery in Bethlehem by the renowned French archaeologist l'abbe Henri Breuil, it was investigated and acquiredby the French consul and prehistorian Rene Neuville who attributed it to the cave of Ain Sakhri where he excavated and found Natufian material. Although the source area of the figurine is not in doubt, its association with Ain Sakhri is unproven. This image of a couple making love is also phallic in all aspects. Although unique in showing a couple, simple phallic carvings are known from other Natufian sites. These have been associated with fertility rites but the arguments have tended to be simplistic. This object was sent for moulding in the Cast Shop between 19 and 28 March 1963 and several copies therefore exist (WAA, 'Transfers' book).


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010, pp.37-42 bibliographic details
    • Parkinson 2013 p. 35 bibliographic details
    • Boyd & Cook 1993 pp.399-405 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Desire, love, identity-exploring LGBTQ histories
    BM, Room 69a, 11 May – 15 October 2017

    2014-2015 13 Dec-15 Mar, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2014 23 Apr-01 Aug, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2005 14 Jul-2006 27 Apr, Israel, Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, In the Beginning: Beyond the Myth of Creation

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Purchased at Sotheby's after Neuville's death.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Phallic figurine


COMPASS Title: Phallic figurine

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB79146

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