9,000-year-old 'Jericho Skull' reconstructed to reveal true face

The “Jericho Skull” as it is widely called was one of seven discovered in 1953 by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in is located in the the British Museum in London. 

 Reconstruction of the Jericho Skull. (photo credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline)
Reconstruction of the Jericho Skull.
(photo credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline)

A 9,000-year-old human skull discovered near the West Bank city of Jericho has a new face, thanks to technology and a multi-national research team.

The “Jericho Skull” as it is widely called was one of seven discovered in 1953 by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon and is located in the British Museum in London. 

The museum said that the skull was covered with plaster and the eye sockets inlaid with cowrie shells, likely to represent the dead individual. 

The skull, the museum said, belonged to an adult male and showed evidence of being artificially shaped, possibly by wrapping cloth around his head when an infant, leading researchers to consider that he was identified as somebody special from this early age

“We don’t know how he died but the removal of the skull may have been carried out after the flesh and sinews had decayed,” the museum explained. “Plaster was carefully modeled over the front of the skull but does not extend over the back, which was perhaps originally provided with some other material to look like hair.”

 Scans of the Jericho Skull. (credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline) Scans of the Jericho Skull. (credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline)

How did researchers reconstruct the face?

The latest development was thanks to Brazilian graphics expert Cícero Moraes, the leader of the project to reconstruct the face of the human whose skull has been sitting in the London museum. 

The reconstruction was made possible after the museum issued images from micro-CT scans of the skull in 2016. The measurements were then used to create a virtual 3D model which was used by the new team to reconstruct the face. 

"There is a lot of mystery around this material," Moraes said according to Ancient Origins. "Thanks to new technologies we are discovering new things about the pieces, but there is still a lot to be studied."

 Scans of the Jericho Skull.  (credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline) Scans of the Jericho Skull. (credit: Cicero Moraes et al. /CC BY 4.0 / Ortogonline)

Now a Palestinian city under Area A of the Oslo Accords, Jericho is an ancient city and is described in the book of Joshua as the first Canaanite city the Israelites attacked after entering the land of Israel and crossing the Jordan River.