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Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed


Archaeologists from the British museum have reconstructed an ancient man's face, allowing visitors to see what he looked like for the first time.

Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
Archaeologists from the British Museum have reconstructed the face of a man who lived 9,500 
years ago in the city of Jericho, now found in the Palestinian territories near the West Bank 
[Credit: Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum]
The man lived 9,500 years ago in the holy city of Jericho, now found in the Palestinian territories near the West Bank.

The 'Jericho skull' was found by British archaeologists in 1953, but until now nobody knew what the he had looked like.

Scientists still don't know the man's true identity, but they speculate that he was once someone of great importance.

This is based on the amount of care people had taken to fill his skull with plaster once he had died, almost 10,000 years ago.

Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
The Jericho Skull. Tell es-Sultan, Jericho, Palestinian Authority. Human bone, plaster, shell, soil. 
About 8200-7500 BC, Middle Pre-pottery Neolithic B period 
[Credit: Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum]
Back then, plastered skulls were a form of ritual burial, like the Egyptians' infamous mummification burials.

The gruesome practice involved removing the corpse's skull and filling it with plaster, before painting over the dead person's face and filling his eye sockets with shells.

These remains were likely put on display for locals while the rest of the body was buried under the family home.

The Jericho skull was found nestled alongside several other plastered skulls, but was by far the most well-preserved of the group.

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'He was certainly a mature individual when he died, but we cannot say exactly why his skull, or for that matter the other skulls that were buried alongside him, were chosen to be plastered,' British Museum curator Alexandra Fletcher told Seeker.

'It may have been something these individuals achieved in life that led to them being remembered after death.'

Before the reconstruction, the ancient skull showed few human features due to the plaster pasting over most of its features.

To investigate the grim burial practice, the scientists sent the skull off for a scan at the Imaging and Analysis Centre at London's Natural History Museum.

Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
Through the CT scans, the team discovered that the ancient man was missing
a jaw underneath the plaster, and had lines of decaying teeth 
[Credit: Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum]
Here, a complete micro-CT scan unveiled a ream of new information about the skull, and inspired the Museum to undertake a full plaster reconstruction.

Through the CT scans, the team discovered that the ancient man was missing a jaw underneath the plaster, and had lines of decaying teeth.

They could see he had suffered a broken nose at some point in his life.

He had also undergone head-binding, a traditional practice in which the skull of a human being is deformed intentionally, usually by forcefully distorting a child's skull.

Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
The plaster skull during the reconstruction process showcasing the ancient man's muscle and tissue build
[Credit: Copyright: The Trustees of the British Museum]
'Head binding is something that many different peoples have undertaken in various forms around the world until very recently,' Fletcher told Seeker.

'In this case, the bindings have made the top and back of the head broader - different from other practices that aim for an elongated shape. I think this was regarded as a 'good look' in Jericho at this time.'

All of the newly gathered details allowed the team to make an accurate plaster reconstruction of the man's head.

And while the fascinating new model provides fresh insight into the man's life, plenty more work needs to be done to discover more about his history and culture.

Face of 9,500 year old Neolithic man from Jericho reconstructed
Side and front views of the reconstruction. The effect of the head binding is just visible 
[Credit: Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum]
The team hopes to gather DNA samples from the skull in future, laying out 10,000 year-old genes for investigation.

But the process would be risky - it's likely to damage the skull and useful results aren't guaranteed.

'If we were able to extract DNA from the human remains beneath the plaster, there is currently a very slight chance that we would be able to find out this individual's hair and eye colour,' Fletcher said.

'I say a slight chance because the DNA preservation in such ancient human remains can be too poor to obtain any information.'

The reconstructed face will be on display at the British Museum in London from next Thursday until mid-February.

Author: Harry Pettit | Source: Daily Mail Online [December 09, 2016]
TANN

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1 comment :

  1. Why so much editorializing about "grim" mortuary rituals? Are they any worse than the current use of embalming and lead-lined coffins?

    ReplyDelete


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