Archaeologists at the British Museum have created a reconstruction of the face of a Neolithic man. Using a skull found in the ancient city of Jericho, in the West Bank of Palestine, in 1953, which was filled with plaster when the individual was buried. Scientists have not found out more about the identity of the man but the 9,500-year-old “Jericho Skull”, as it came to be known, was buried with great care, so they assume it was someone important.
Plastered skulls are an early form of ritual burial in a 8,200-7,500BCE; the skull would be removed, filled with plaster, decorated by a layer of paint, and shells would be placed into the eye sockets. Although the Jericho Skull was found among other plastered skulls it stood out due to its well-preserved condition.
The skull was sent for scanning at the Imaging and Analysis Centre at the Natural History Museum, where after a complete micro-CT scan researchers were able to create a 3D model. They found that it was missing a jaw under the plaster, it had decaying teeth, a broken nose at some point in his life, and also had undergone head-binding, to shape its form.
But the team of scientists took the 3D modelling a step further and were able to create a very accurate reconstruction of the individual’s face. Since they have not been able to collect DNA sample from the skull they do not know the precise hair and eye colour, however the features are thought to be close to what the man really looked like.
The reconstructed face will be on display at the British Museum until mid-February.