The origins of the Neolithic in the Near East were accompanied by significant ritual and symbolic innovations. New light is thrown on the social context of these changes by the discovery of a bone wand displaying two engraved human faces from the Early Neolithic site of Tell Qarassa in Syria, dating from the late ninth millennium BC. This small bone object from a funerary layer can be related to monumental statuary of the same period in the southern Levant and south-east Anatolia that probably depicted powerful supernatural beings. It may also betoken a new way of perceiving human identity and of facing the inevitability of death. By representing the deceased in visual form the living and the dead were brought closer together.