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How Art Made the World Episode 5

The Skulls
of Jericho

Moche
Civilization
The Aztecs
of Mexico
The Etruscans

scholar:

Solomon & Greenberg:
Death Images
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The Skulls of Jericho

On the last day of their dig in the Biblical city of Jericho, British archeologist in the mid-1950s discovered something that would turn the world of archeology upside down -- they discovered a human skull unlike any other ever seen before.

An ancient artist had taken the skull from the body and then decorated it.

It had a nose that had been reconstructed with plaster, and instead of two empty eye sockets, there were a pair of eyes made of shells from the nearby Red Sea. An ancient artist had taken the skull from the body and then decorated it. And not only was it decorated, but the underside was made smooth and flat - clearly designed to stand upright, perhaps on the floor of someone's home or in a special alcove. Nine thousand years ago the people of Jericho created images of dead people specifically to be seen by the living. The Jericho Skulls were not unique however; in the decades since their discovery, ancient decorated skulls have been found at other sites in the Middle East, as well as the Ukraine.

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