This spindle made from Lead and Tamarisk husk was carbon-dated to between 4300 BC and 4000 BC. It was found by archaeologists in a burial chamber in the Ashalim Cave in the Negev desert. It is considered the first bit of smelted lead found in the Levant. The Tamarisk husk is almost 9 inches long. The lead whorl–if that’s what it is–is less than an inch-and-a-half long and weights almost six ounces.Tests on the lead suggest that it came from the Taurus Mountains in Anatolia. For more on this at LiveScience….
Archaeological experts readily admit they aren’t sure what the artifact was actually used for; some think it might have had some ceremonial use as a mace. Others, including the writer of this blog-post – who most assuredly is not an archaeological expert – think it was used, at least at some point, as a spindle. There are marks on the lead, the experts say, that are indicative of it having been used as a whorl. The notches in the Tamarisk and the extra weight of the lead whorl would have made it useful for spinning thick, heavy wool.
An aside on the difference between Tamarack and Tamerisk… A great thing about exploring the subject of rugs, carpets and tapestries is the ability to easily segue into other subject matter. On the subject of Tamarack and tamarisk I had always thought them to be the same, but they are not. Apparently the Tamarack is native to the New World and the Tamarisk or salt cedar is native to the old… the Middle East actually. The tamarisk was imported to save soil along North American rivers and as often happens when men try to improve upon nature, the consequences were disastrous.