The masks were probably used in rites of healing and magic and in ceremonies celebrating the deceased. They weigh about 2 to 4 pounds and likely would have been painted, as the color traces on one of them suggest.
NEWS: Deformed, Pointy Skull from Dark Ages Unearthed
Each of the 12 masks is unique, and shows old and young faces of various size. One even resembles a human skull.
"They are the first glimmerings of existential reflection," James Snyder, the museum's director, told the Times of Israel.
Several masks feature a set of holes along the outer edge, as if they were hung or worn.
The exhibition runs from March 11 until Sept. 13 and "will be an opportunity for investigation, research, reflection, conjecture," Snyder said.
Photo: Neolithic masks were carved out of limestone some 9,000 years ago by Stone Age people. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority. Exhibited at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem