Each stone artefact laid on the table told its own story.
A grindstone bore the red and yellow marks of ochre used for ceremony or art.
Stone axe heads showed signs of hafting – when their owners attached handles to them so they could be used to cut down trees.
They were among 1800 items formally returned to Indigenous communities by the Israel Museum on Tuesday morning, after decades in the institution’s collection.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra received the items during a formal handover, and will temporarily house the artefacts before they return to communities.
It is the first handover of Aboriginal cultural heritage items from the Middle East to Indigenous peoples.