Plastered Skull from Jericho
Date: Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Period, ca 7,000-6,000BC
NM Inv. 57.03: presented by Dame Kathleen Kenyon, British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.
This human skull features a clay and lime plaster coating modelled into the form of a face, with inlaid shell for eyes. It was found at Jericho and dates to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Period (ca 7,000-6,000 BC). Similar objects have been found at 'Ain Gazal in Jordan and Ramad in Syria. At 'Ain Gazal, some human burials showed evidence of having been re-opened to allow for the removal of the head, which was then re-buried elsewhere, or more rarely, painted. The practice represents an elaborate form of secondary burial. Other scholars have suggested that the plastered skulls may represent a form of ancestor worship.
X-rays and CT scans on this example have revealed it to be sections of a juvenile skull plastered together, rather than a complete one. The lower jaw and other sections are missing.
The skull was given by Jericho's excavator, Dame Kathleen Kenyon, owing to financial and other support that the University had given to her work.