Tag Archives: Neolithic

What lies beneath: new discoveries about the Jericho skull

How fascinating, that the skull was plastered at all – and that we have found several of them, implying many more have been lost in the intervening 9,000 years! Even more interesting, that the lower jaw was removed. You can see problems in plastering with this great flappy row of teeth – and if you bound it, the binding would show above the plaster. The people who did this clearly knew what they were doing, with different densities of clay inside and outside the skull; ergo, had done it before – perhaps many times. Even the fact that most of the plastered skulls we have are male could merely be an artefact of the thousands of years of danger; more gracile skulls would be more easily damaged.
So, as a writer, I’m free to speculate as to why, and what they looked like. I imagine a loved one’s body being laid to rest on a sky-platform, exposed to the elements and chance predators for the year it would take the family to return to that spot; then the cranium carefully rescued and treated to its plaster coat, complete with lips and ears. Equipped with those, you can speak and listen… Were they painted, too? Would you add, say, a distinctive scar or mole to the plaster, or once dead, was everyone the same?
I think that, given a nomadic lifestyle, these people would have been left as markers of territory, able to curse any stranger who wandered by without permission. Can you imagine climbing a hillside, rounding a corner, and coming face-to-face with rows of skull-people, their blank eyes seeing both you and the other world simultaneously? Enough to send you screaming!

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British Museum blog

Alexandra Fletcher, curator, British Museum

It’s always a problem for museum curators to find ways of learning more about the objects in their care without damaging them. For human remains, it’s even more complicated because there are additional questions of care and respect for the dead that have to be carefully considered before any research can be done. However, by studying their remains we can find out an enormous amount about the people of the past; about their health, their diet and about the religious practices they carried out.

The Jericho skull shown with face forwards. The eyes are made from shell. The Jericho skull shown with face forwards. The eyes are made from shell.

The so-called Jericho skull is among the oldest human remains in the British Museum collection. Thought to be between 8,500 and 9,300 years old, it is one of seven Neolithic plastered human skulls found together by Kathleen Kenyon during excavations at Jericho in 1953. The site is…

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Today’s archaeology news

My browsing this morning has brought me a super trio of archaeological items, that I thought I’d share with you!

In strict age order; some astonishing Neolithic finds in Ayia Varvara Asprokremnos, Cyprus – the most complete stone human figure ever found is very evocative, but you’d also be rewarded for scrolling down to the picture at the bottom. A casual throw-away is the piece of Neolithic jewellery they have a reproduction of. My image of Neolithic bling, what with recent tattoo articles, is getting a lot more colourful!

http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-ayia-varvara-asprokremnos-01608.html

Next we move into the start of the Bronze Age in Bogota, with some write-up and some intriguing shots of the finds. Thank heavens for sharp-eyed construction workers!

http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/south-america/20131209/83760-discovery-of-3000yearold-village-halts-colombia-construction.html

And finally, part of my quest to develop my own bucket list of places my soon-to-be-e husband would never want to go to – a bit of Ancient Greek, and the city of Jerash in Jordan, possibly founded by Alexander the Great. Of course, there’s one or two other sites in Jordan too πŸ˜›

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerash

Such a wonderful world, across all its ages πŸ˜€

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Knapping is MAGIC!

I have decided that I love knapping πŸ™‚ Actually, even better – given my complete lack of 3D visualisation skills – that I love watching someone who knows what they’re doing, knap!

Yesterday, I watched in awe as Will Lord casually knocked out axe after axe after arrowhead; then very patiently went round and made tactful suggestions about the attempts we were making. He is a brilliant teacher, and it was a fascinating day; half-a-dozen of us sat around a wood fire, happily reducing great nodules of flint to rubble.

Will knocked out this absolute beauty in about 5 mins – photographed by my Olduvai Gorge handaxe for comparison:

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I completely failed in the hand-axe department. I tried three times; I could get to a certain point, then just couldn’t see the way to make the next platform to take the next slice off.

On a smaller scale, I was better. This picture shows my more successful attempts, with the hand axe as comparison! I’d actually get excited if I found the leaf arrowhead on a site; nicely Neolithic, lol! And the scraper’s over-elaborate for the Bronze Age, but that’s because I got carried away with how satisfying it was to nibble round πŸ™‚

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The only problem was self-inflicted – the palm of my left hand is covered with tiny cuts, several of which bled – and then bled again this morning, when my karate lesson required me to slap my hand against a mat, repeatedly. I learn that, when you hit a flint nodule correctly, the flake comes off the bottom of the module. And catching it is inadvisable πŸ™‚

So I shall have fun playing with the head-sized nodule Will sent me home with – as soon as I’ve found suitably thick gloves and leg-pad! And I’m already saving up to do the day again. Or maybe his bronze-casting workshop. Magic!

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