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Rattle

Rattle

Israel, 800-700 B.C.E.
  • Clay: wheel-turned, slipped, and fired
  • Height 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm) Diameter: 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Archaeology Acquisition Fund, JM 12-73.428
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Rattle

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This hollow clay object is just over three inches high. Inside is a loose pebble or piece of clay that rattles when the object is shaken. Objects such as this have been found in numerous Iron -Age sites, mainly in tombs.

An instrument that was shaken, possibly a rattle, is mentioned as being played during David’s transport of the Ark to Jerusalem in the Book of Second Samuel, 6:5. This suggests that the rattle shown here might have been a musical instrument of the Iron Age. Rattles are also found in the Late Bronze Age (1550 BCE – 1200 BCE) in association with cultic installations; this has probably led to their interpretation as cultic objects in the Iron Age. However, there is always the possibility that rattles were children’s toys, just as they are today.