CT imaging of a 9500-year-old plastered human skull, in side and front views.

The Jericho Research Project

A unique archaeological collection from the Dead Sea
The Jericho Research Project investigates this remarkable collection of excavated materials using modern archaeological and scientific techniques.

About the project

In the 1950s, the Nicholson Museum sponsored Kathleen Kenyon's excavations at Jericho in the West Bank, undertaken for the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. In acknowledgement of this support, Kenyon sent an astonishing collection of archaeological materials to Sydney for teaching and research. These materials have received little scholarly attention.

The Jericho Research Project investigates this repository using modern archaeological and scientific techniques. This cross-disciplinary project aims to publish the Jericho collection in Sydney, and discover new information that will inform teaching, exhibition and display.

This interdisciplinary, collaborative project investigates several aspects of the Jericho assemblage including:

  • CT imaging a 9500-year-old plastered skull, in collaboration with Macquarie Medical Imaging. This research uses medical imaging to investigate how the skull was made and used as a prehistoric cultic artefact.
  • Identifying the plant species represented in the well-preserved organic artefacts recovered from Bronze Age tombs, including wooden furniture and vessels, basketry, and the remains of food offerings. This research is undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Scientific Research at the British Museum, using scanning electron microscopy.
  • Analysing human remains from Bronze Age tombs. This research investigates ritual behaviour in Bronze Age Jericho, as well as issues of health, diet and disease.
  • Cataloguing Bronze Age ceramics from excavations in both settlement and cemetery for publication and display.
The Jericho research team and colleagues standing next to a CT scan machine, with a Jericho skull placed in the machine.

Research team and colleagues CT scanning the Jericho skull at Macquarie Medical Imaging (MMI). From left: Dr Ronika Power (Macquarie University); Dr Jamie Fraser (Sydney University Museums); Dr Alexandra Fletcher (British Museum); Professor John Magnussen (MMI); Kirstin Geyer (MMI); Dr Alain Middleton (Westmead Hospital); Dr Marg Pardey (MMI); Julie Taylor (Sydney University Museums). 22 November 2018.

Featured image (top of the page): plastered human skull, Jericho, 8000–7000 BC, with CT imaging courtesy of Macquarie Medical Imaging.