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Copper Age crown, the world's oldest, to go on display in Manhattan

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This Crown from the Copper Age is believed to be the oldest in existence. The artifact will be on display at The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in Manhattan until June. (Collection of Israel Antiquities AuthorityPhoto © The Israel Museum, by Ardon Bar Hama)

The world’s oldest crown will be taking on Manhattan when it goes on display at a new exhibit on the city's Upper East Side.

The crown is a relic of the Copper Age, dating back some 6,000 years, and will be on display with 150 other artifacts from the era as part of the “Masters of Fire: Copper Age Art from Israel” exhibit opening this week at Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

“To the modern eye, it is stunning to see how these groups of people, already mastering so many new social systems and technologies, still had the ability to create objects of enduring artistic interest,” said Jennifer Y. Chi, ISAW Exhibitions Director and Chief Curator in a statement.

The Copper Age was when people discovered how to make implements and ritual objects out of copper and organize and glean products like milk and wool.

The show is considered to be the most comprehensive collection of artifacts from the era to be seen outside of Israel, according to local news site DNAinfo New York.

The black-colored crown is shaped like a thick ring and adorned with vultures and doors protruding from the top.

It is believed to have played a part in burial ceremonies and its adornments are believed a model of a structure where bodies were allowed to decompose before burial.

Many of the objects are part of the Nahal Mishmar Hoard, which is a collection of over 400 objects that were found in a remote cave near the Dead Sea in 1961. The pieces include two clay statues of the Lady of Gilat and The Ram of Gilat and a full array of Copper Age figurines made from stone, ivory, bone, and clay as well as a scepter decorated with horned animals, a copper container designed to look like a woven basket, and clay goblets and bowls.

“The fascinating thing about this period is that a burst of innovation defined the technologies of the ancient world for thousands of years,” Daniel M. Master, Professor of Archaeology at Wheaton College and a member of the curatorial team, said in a statement. “People experimented with new ways to use not just copper, but also leather, ceramics, and textiles—sometimes successfully, sometimes not.”

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