Plastered human skulls
Plastered human skulls date to around c. 8000 BC, which corresponds to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B.
One such skull was excavated in the 1930s by John Garstang at Jericho, West Bank along with five other plastered skulls, and is currently in the Royal Ontario Museum. Similar skulls were discovered by Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s. Other sites where plastered skulls were excavated include Ain Ghazal and Amman, Jordan, and Tell Ramad, Syria. Most of the plastered skulls were from adult males, but some belonged to women and children.
Plastered skulls represent one of the earliest burial practices in the southern Levant. During the Neolithic period, the deceased were often buried under the floors of their homes. Sometimes the skull was removed, and its cavities filled with plaster and painted. In order to create very life-like faces, shells were inset for eyes, and paint was used to represent facial features, hair, and moustaches. Some scholars believe that this burial practice represents an early form of ancestor worship, where the plastered skulls were used to remember and commemorate family ancestors. Some scholars argue that plastered skulls could be linked to the practice of head hunting, and used as trophies. Plastered skulls provide evidence about the earliest arts and religious practices in the ancient Near East.
- Strouhal, E. Five Plastered Skulls from Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Jericho: Anthropological Study Paléorient 1:1-2 (1973): 231-247.
- Mazar, Amihai (1990). Archaeology of the land of the Bible (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday. ISBN 038523970X.
- German, Senta. “The Neolithic Revolution.” Khana Academy. .