Contextualizing the Human Head

Michelle Bonogofsky

in The Bioarchaeology of the Human Head

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035567
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041766 | DOI:
Contextualizing the Human Head

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This introductory chapter discusses a wide variety of biological and cultural manipulations involving human heads and skulls recovered from archaeological and ethnographic contexts around the globe, notably, as they relate to early Neolithic modeled skulls from the Middle East. As a biological object subject to disease processes and patterns of physical activity, the skull is one of the most informative parts of the human body. Significant social meaning is revealed by focusing on the various ways in which the head was treated before and after a person's death. This chapter summarizes the case studies in the book and links the practices of decapitation, decoration and deformation with potential religious, economic and political motivations and questions of identity—namely whose skulls were thus treated and why.

Keywords: modeled skulls; Middle East; neolithic; bioarchaeology; identity

Chapter.  19891 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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