Dienekes informs us of a French-Syrian archaeological mission discovery of decorated human skulls dating back to 9,500 years ago near Damascus, Syria. The find was located at a burial site near a prehistoric (actually Neolithic site of Tell Aswad, at Jaidet al-Khass village. The five skulls were found earlier this month in a pit resting against one another, underneath the remains of an infant, here is an image of three of the skulls in sediment still:

Decorated Skulls from Syira

Discoveries like this are not uncommon the Middle East, death masks and decorated skulls are quite common in a lot of cultures. The Egyptians really solidified the ritual of death masks several thousand years after this finding, and the Phoenicians and Persians are known to have decorated their dead similarly. The significance of this finding is that the skulls represent a,

“regularity and the smoothness of their features.. The eyes are shown as closed, underlined by black bitumen. The nose is straight and fine, with a pinched base to portray the nostrils. The mouth is reduced to a slit… only to important individuals, chosen according to social or religious criteria.”

Danielle Stordeur is a CNRS Directeur de Recherche and Director of the El Kowm-Mureybet permanent mission. She heads the CNRS research unit, that assisted in this discovery, and is quoted from an AFP article, “9,500-year-old decorated skulls found in Syria.”