- Jericho skull
"Jericho skull"; a human cranium with a face modelled in plaster. One eye is made from a bivalve shell divided in two. The other has one, smaller, complete shell in place and is missing its twin.
- 8200BC-7500BC (Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B)
- Excavated/Findspot: Jericho
- (Asia,Middle East,Levant,West Bank,Jericho)
- Height: 17 centimetres
- Width: 14.6 centimetres
- Length: 11.2 centimetres (nose to top Y-suture)
- Length: 16.4 centimetres (nose to back Y-suture)
- Length: 13.4 centimetres (bewteen top parietals)
- Length: 12.8 centimetres (between side parietals)
- Depth: 18 centimetres
- Weight: 3.4 kilograms
Headless skeletons in burials of this period have been found, and it is probable that the removal of the skulls for use in this way had some religious purpose, perhaps connected with an ancestor cult.
Three photographs exist of this object taken after registration (1954), they were taken by an external photographer, Walter Bird (49, Queen's Gate, Knightsbridge, London). The views are
lateral left side down, three-quarters left side down, and full front. The skull was sent to the Natural History Museum between 7 March and 25 July 1958 for casting (WAA Transfers Book). In that year it was temporarily exhibited in a glass case in the north side of the Assyrian Room, but prior to that it was temporarily exhibited in the Hittite Room (according to departmental correspondence to/from Miss Sachse (q.v.), dated 1958).
On display: G59/dc1
Exhibited: 2015 - 2016, Dec - Mar, Seoul Arts Centre, 'Human Image'
2007, 19 Jan-17 Jun, Karlsruhe, Badisches Landesmuseum, 'The Earliest Monuments of Mankind' 2002, 24 Mar-30 Jun, Ruhrlandmuseum, Essen 'Bodies Recreated'. 1958, Assyrian Room, in glass case on north side ca 1957, Hittite Room
Acquisition of this collection reported in British Museum Report of the Trustees 1966, p. 38
Jericho skull: plastered skull, one of a number dating from the 7th millennium BC. In each case, a skull was taken as the base and the features of the face were modelled on it in plaster. The eyes are made of bivalve shells. Headless skeletons in burials of this period have been found, and it is probable that the removal of the skulls for use in this way had some religious purpose, perhaps connected with an ancestor cult; nose damaged. One eye is made from a bivalve shell divided in two. The other has one, smaller, complete shell in place and is missing its twin.
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Object reference number: WCO23164
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.