Archaeologists were recently exploring in Croatia when the happened upon something that immediately caught their eye and has subsequently set off debate about what they found, according to Ancient Origins:
“(The researchers) unearthed three ancient alien-like skeletons and two have artificially elongated skulls. Since 12,000-years-ago in ancient China, all over the ancient world, from Eurasia and across Africa to South America, people deliberately deformed the shapes of their children’s skulls.
“Most archaeologists associate this with an effort to identify one’s cultural origins and/or to indicate social status. Using tightly tied leather and cloths, earth filled bag-headdresses, or rigid wooden blocks, skulls could be altered into bizarre shapes if the method was applied to malleable infant’s skulls when they still had plasticity.”
Elongated skulls have been found before, most notably the Paracas skulls unearthed along the coast of Peru. For years, it was speculated that the Paracas skulls were proof that aliens did indeed visit Earth.
The Croatian skulls turned out to be of children aged between 12 and 16. They had lived between 415 and 560 AD and suffered from malnutrition. And all died suddenly, according to researchers:
“The team of scientist believe they could have had a disease like the plague ‘that killed them quickly and didn’t leave any traces on their bones.’ It is known that they died at the same time as the Great Migration Period, a very turbulent period in European history when after the fall of the Roman Empire entirely new cultures arrived in Europe with new traditions.”
After further examination of the skulls, it was determined that that one of the skulls belonged to a child of West Eurasian ancestry and didn’t contain any cranial elongation.
A second skull showed a person of East Asian ancestry who had “oblique deformation” meaning that the skull was elongated upward.
The third child was of Near Asian ancestry and had circular-erect type cranial deformation. In this soft of deformation, the bone behind the forehead is flattened, which increased the height of the skull “significantly.”
During the period in which these children are believed to have lived, skull elongation was common:
“(In) the migration period of Europe (4 th – 7 th century AD) … the practice of intentional cranial modification ‘was common among several nomadic groups, but was strongly associated with the Huns from the Carpathian Basin in Hungary, where modified crania are abundant in archaeological sites.'”
Deformation of skulls was practiced by the Huns during a period around 453 AD. But why was this done? Merely for cosmetic reasons, or was there another purpose?
Oddly enough, it’s now believed that skull elongation was a sort of status symbol among ancient peoples which “helped foster a sense of community and collective identity.”
There is evidence to support such a hypothesis:
“Bioarchaeologist Matthew Velasco of Cornell University said that some 300 years before the Inca Empire swept the southwestern Americas the powerful social elite in a small ethnic community known as the ‘Collagua,’ who lived in the Colca Valley in south-eastern Peru, intentionally shaped their heads to ‘polarize other groups, resulting in social inequality.'”
Accounts from Spanish explorers also mention a group known as the ‘Cavanas,’who also deformed their skulls, but not the tall, narrow way the Collagua did. Instead, the Cavanas “modified their skulls by widening and flattening them.”
While such cranial modifications seem bizarre to us when we examine thousands of years after they occurred, they may well have helped ancient people build a sense of community and better fit into the places they lived, even assuring cooperation which led to their survival:
“These studies all suggest head shaping among those with power may have paved the way for a ‘peaceful incorporation for the Collagua into the Inca Empire’ and that standardization of head-shaping practices echoes broader patterns of identity formation across the south-central highlands. What’s more, it may have provided ‘a symbolic basis for the cooperation of elite groups during an era of intensive conflict.'”
Survival is man’s most basic instinct, and humans will do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and their families. That even includes something as strange as changing the shape of their skulls. It doesn’t prove alien life on Earth, but it does reinforce the notion that mankind is resilient and ever changing as conditions warrant.
Here’s more on cranial modification:
Featured Image Via University of Wien