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20 December 2016
Look into the eyes of a Neolithic man

The face of a man who lived 9,500 years ago has been reconstructed based on extensive new analysis of the 'Jericho Skull' - a face modeled in plaster over a man's actual skull, and one of seven discovered together by famed 20th century British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon during excavations in 1953 at Jericho, near the Jordan River in the West Bank of Palestine.
     Alexandra Fletcher, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Curator for the Ancient Near East at The British Museum, says: "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. It may have been something these individuals achieved in life that led to them being remembered after death."
     Fletcher adds that the individuals might have also been related, since each of the skulls in the same burial were missing their second and third molars, which could be an inherited trait.
     A detailed scan of the skull led to the construction of a 3-D digital model, complete with bones inside, revealing the shape of his palate, cheekbones, brow ridge and eye sockets, and that he had broken his nose as an adult but it had healed before he died. His lower jaw is missing. The upper jaw contains broken and decayed teeth.
     There is also evidence that tight head binding from early infancy changed the shape of his skull. Fletcher says the bindings made the top and back of the head broader - distinct from other cultural practices that aim for an elongated shape. The binding adds to evidence that the man and other individuals found with him held elite status.
     The reconstruction is displayed at The British Museum in the exhibit "Creating an ancestor: the Jericho Skull," from 15 December, 2016 through 19 February, 2017. Fletcher and her team hope the lifelike model can later move into permanent galleries.

Edited from Seeker.com (7 December 2016)

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