When it comes to following beauty trends, some viral ideas you might want to reconsider copying. The practice of cranial deformation was so widespread in the ancient world that when archaeologists first discovered the remains of these alien-like skulls, it triggered mass conspiracies about their origins. Thanks to technology and DNA testing, science confirms that these peculiar elongated skulls are of terrestrial origin and not the remains of otherworldly visitors.
Look Like An Egyptian
Altering the shape of the head using binding techniques to create an elongated skull has been connected to ancient Sumerians and ancient Egyptians. Some people have believed that the strange skull shape is the result of contact with extraterrestrials, but humans may have been practicing cranial deformation since 45,000 years ago.
Across the ancient world, people would take measures to augment the shape of an infant’s head, until the desired conical shape was achieved. The curious looking appearance of the skull was to reflect a connection to the gods, divine wisdom, or display a higher social class.
Reserved For Royals
According to records from ancient Sumerians and ancient Egyptians, the appearance of an elongated skull may not have been triggered by a genetic deformity, or artificial shaping. The earliest rulers of these ancient civilizations were believed to be gods or direct descendants of a divine source. One of the most significant discoveries of strange human remains is from the Paracas Culture, with over 300 specimens shaped into elongated shapes.
A little north of Paracas, a site called Chongos has the most extensive collection of striking skulls left behind for archaeologists to discover. Evidence of elongated skulls has also been found among the northwest of the United States, as infants were subject to cradle boarding. Elongated skulls have been created to separate nobles from commoners, copy the look of ancestors, or used as a sign of beauty.
Elongated skulls have been unearthed in locations such as Peru, Australia, Germany, and the United States. In the south of Germany, researchers have uncovered the remains of female skulls that were conical shaped.
Although ancient Bavarians were blonde haired and had blue eyes, the odd-shaped skulls dating back to the late 5th century or early 6th century had completely different genetic phenotypes. The foreign women were believed to have been married into the communities for political ties, were of the noble class, and most likely had dark hair and eyes.
DNA Testing Debunks Myths
As much as some people would love to believe that ancient humans were touched by aliens, DNA testing has toppled preconceived notions about human civilization and migration. The skulls of Paracas show a connection to the Middle East and Europe, especially modern-day Syria. The skulls naturally have red or blonde hair, which is 30% finer than Native American hair.
Another strange point about many of the Paracas skulls is that they lack a sagittal suture, which normally would run down the middle of the crown of the head. The abnormality of the skull was not the result of a genetic defect, and may not have been caused artificially.
Old World Beauty Trends Persisted
The Mangbetu people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were renown for their practice of elongating heads. Children of the Mangbetu would undergo ‘lipombo,’ where developing heads would be bound with tight cloth or ropes until the desired appearance was achieved.
Stretched out heads were believed to be a symbol of high status, visually attractive, and was an identifying marker of being part of the Mangbetu. When Belgian colonists made contact with the Mangbetu in the 19th century, the practice of traditional cranial deformation was banned and went into extinction.