In the Neolithic period the Levantine Fertile Crescent ushered in one of the most profound cultural revolutions in the history of the Mediterranean basin. This environmentally blessed cradle of civilisation played host to modern humans as they made the crucial transition from hunter-gatherers to sedentary farmers to emerge as proto-urban societies. A conspicuous enigma of the world’s first ‘city dwellers’ was the most extraordinary ritual practice of plastering human skulls, which is attested at several major Neolithic sites, such as Jericho in the Palestinian Territories, Çatalhöyük in Turkey, and ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan. To this list may now be added five skulls recently excavated by Danielle Stordeur of the CNRS at Tell Aswad in northern Syria.
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