Strange elongated skulls are found all over the Earth. Who do they belong to?
In northeastern China, archaeologists have discovered skulls of an unusual shape, whose age ranges from five to 12 thousand years. The practice of artificial skull deformation is known in many ancient cultures, and it still exists in some tribes living in remote corners of the Earth. However, scientists still argue about the meaning of this custom, and supporters of conspiracy theories believe that it was not without aliens. "Lenta.ru" tells in detail about the discovery itself, as well as how and why people of antiquity have modified their body.
In the Neolithic tombs located at the archaeological site of Houtaomuga (Chinese province of Jilin), researchers found 25 skeletons. 11 of them have signs of intentional modification of the skull.
This is not the oldest such find. The oldest evidence of the artificial deformation of the skull, discovered in 1982 in Iraq, is 45 thousand years old and the record belongs not to humans, but to Neanderthals. At the same time, a number of researchers questioned that an extinct species of people really resorted to this practice. However, there are finds of 13 thousand years old, and all scientists are confident in them.
Among the remains found in Jilin there were five adult elongated skulls (four men and one woman) and six children. The age of people at the time of burial ranged from three to 40 years. One of them - a man - lived 12 thousand years ago, and the rest lay in the cultural layers by the age of five thousand years and 6.5 thousand years.
The new discovery differs from the others in that the remains immediately cover a large period of time: seven thousand years. As the authors wrote in an article published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the area where Houtaomuga is located served as a center for the spread of a population of people beyond northeastern China: to central China, to the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago, to Eastern Siberia and America. Hence the value of the find: in the future, it will help reveal the secret of why such a strange tradition has arisen at all.
Chosen by gods
Probably, for thousands of years, there could have been a number of reasons for cranial modification: a marker of an elite position in the social hierarchy, an indicator of beauty, or proximity to the spirit world. For example, on the islands of Tomman and Malakula in the Australian region, a man with an elongated head is considered to be smarter, has a high status and can communicate with supernatural forces. However, there is no evidence that such deformations actually have any direct benefit for a person, such as an increase in mental abilities.
In any case, only individual people resorted to the deformation of the skull - this is indicated by the fact that only half of all the remains had signs of modification. All found burials were placed in vertical tombs of the same type, that is, belonged to the same culture. Archaeologists have found artifacts that are luxury items next to an adult woman and a three-year-old child. Two common graves were also found: one with an adult and a child, and the second with three bodies. At the same time, in the first grave, both skulls were elongated - modifications, it seems, were a family tradition.
The authors write that although the criterion by which some people deformed their skulls, while others did not, still remains unknown, it became clear that it was the high social status that played an important role - not only the individual, but also the family.
Artificial deformation of the head begins to be carried out in infancy, when the child’s skull is soft, malleable, and his bones have not yet grown together. The head is wrapped tightly with a cloth or something like a tire is made of planks. The procedure can last up to six months. There is a description of her: “Every day a child’s head is smeared with a paste of burnt Moluccan tung nut (Aleurites moluccanus). This process softens the skin and prevents rashes. After that, the head is tied with a “non'enbobosit” (Ne’Enbobosit) - a soft bandage made from the inner bark of a banana tree. “No'onbat'ar” (No'onbat’ar), a woven basket made of pandanas, is placed on top of the dressing, and tied with a fiber rope on top. ”
As a result of the procedure, the skull becomes partially flat and elongated, somewhat resembling the head of aliens. According to most experts, this modification does not affect cognitive abilities and human health (although there are suspicions about the increased risk of epilepsy).
They are everywhere
As the residents of Malakulan say, they lengthen the heads of their children because this is a tradition based on the spiritual beliefs of their people. It is obvious to them that a child with a modified skull is more handsome and wise. In the natives of the island of Borneo (Indonesia) it is believed that the sign of beauty is a flat forehead. In this case, the modification begins in the first month of the child’s life and is carried out using the tadal tool. A cushion is placed on the forehead, which is held by means of ribbons encircling.
In Africa, there are famous Mora-Mangbetu peoples, for whom the unusual shape of the skull is a sign of belonging to an elite social group. On the heads of babies wore tight bandages that were worn for several years. In adulthood, the length of the skull was visually emphasized by wrapping hair around a wicker basket.
The same tradition existed in Europe. For example, in France, the practice of artificial skull deformation (known as Toulouse deformation) among the peasants existed until the end of the XIX century. In De-Sevre, the child’s head was wrapped for two to four months with a tight bandage, which was then replaced with a basket and strengthened with metal threads. In Normandy, the skull was squeezed with a piece of tarpaulin and special hairstyles were made. In Europe, cranial deformity in the era of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages was popular with the Huns who invaded Europe from Asia. In the II century, this procedure was practiced by the peoples living in Romania.
Traces of tradition were found in the New World. In Mexico, archaeologists have discovered bones belonging to the ancient Maya, including one elongated skull. In Bolivia (South America), an ancient mass grave was excavated, which also contained strange-shaped skulls.
The absence of an unequivocal answer to the question of where and why the practice of skull deformation arose turned out to be convenient for supporters of the theory of paleo-contact. According to this concept, which modern scientists do not seriously consider, the ancient people contacted representatives of cosmic civilizations, who could be interpreted as spirits or gods. The head shape of the aliens supposedly could inspire the rulers of ancient peoples to imitate, in order to gain access to the wisdom of aliens.
However, the theory of paleokontakt is not confirmed by scientific research - there are more acceptable versions of the appearance of certain customs, artifacts and structures in history. For example, people could initially imitate other groups of people who had an unusual shape of the skull from nature. The reason why they started doing this should be sought in new graves, rather than resorting to bare speculations.