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Elongated human skulls

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Cranial deformation causing elongated human skulls was a world-wide phenomenon found in areas such as ancient Iraq, Malta, Melanesia (specifically near Vanuatu), Russia, North and South America, and possibly Egypt during the Amarna period, during the time of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, but the latter is hotly debated by scholars. In terms of time period, we are looking at roughly between 4000 BCE and 300 CE. The deformation process was usually begun when a child was very young, perhaps soon after birth, and continued until complete calcification of the skull was complete.[1] Most academics believe that this was achieved by the binding of the skull with cords and flat wooden boards. The last examples of people to perform this were in the Congo of Africa by the Mangbetu people and the Vanuatu natives in the latter part of the 19th century.

However, some cultures of Peru offer other possible examples of this, and even the possibility that individuals were born with elongated crania. An amazing detailed sketch, made by Johan Jakob von Tschudi, and published in a book he co-authored with Mariano E. Rivera in 1851 called Peruvian Antiquities shows a human fetus with a huge elongated skull.[2] The fetus was labeled as Inca, but its exact location was not revealed by Tschudi. Interestingly, since no portraits of the Inca were ever made prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1532, and taking into consideration that a brutal civil war which preceded the Spanish Conquest, probably in 1531, resulted in the vast majority of the royal Inca family, as much as 90% of them, being slaughtered,[3] precisely what the pre-conquest Inca looked like is unknown

Other cultures of the area who had elongated crania, based on archaeological findings, include the Tiwanaku of the south end of Lake Titicaca, and the Paracas of the Peruvian coast. Proposed Nazca (Nasca) culture elongated skulls were in fact the Paracas people, who existed in that territory prior to the Nazca. In fact, the world famous Nazca geoglyph animal figures were most likely not Nazca creations, but those of the Paracas people.[4]

The Paracas culture resided on the coast of Peru, south of the capital Lima. Some estimates are that this culture existed between 700 BCE and 100 CE, but sources vary, mainly because very little carbon 14 testing has been conducted on organic materials found in the area. Julio C. Tello (1880 to 1947), the "father" of Peruvian archaeology, conducted archaeological digs around the Paracas area in 1927 and 1928 as a result of learning that tomb robbers had found large caches of funerary materials, including highly prized textiles, as well as ceramics and ceremonial offerings at a site called Cerro Colorado, which is now a protected area inside the Paracas Ecological Reserve.[5] Little work has been done by archaeologists since Tello's time, but the plundering of the tombs of the nobility of this culture has gone on, ceaselessly, up to this very day. One intriguing aspect of this culture which has been overlooked by most researchers is the fact that the nobility practiced skull binding, resulting cranial deformation. They were not unique in this, as the process of manipulating the shape of a child's head in infancy was practiced by many cultures, at different times, around the world.[1] The Paracas situation is somewhat unique in that researchers Juan Navarro and Brien Foerster have found the presence of at least 5 distinct shapes of elongated skulls, each being predominant in specific cemeteries. The largest and most striking are from a site called Chongos, near the town of Pisco, north of Paracas. These skulls are called "cone heads" by many who see them, because of their literal conical appearance. Testing of these have illustrated that, on average, the cranial capacity is 1.5 liters, approximately 25% larger than contemporary skulls, and weigh as much as 60 percent more. Also, eye orbit cavities are significantly larger than contemporary skulls, and the jaws are both larger and thicker. Moreover, the presence of two small holes in the back of the Chongos skulls, called foramen, indicate that blood flow and perhaps nerves exited the skull at the back in order to feed the skin tissue. This would seem to indicate that nature did this, and not cranial deformation.[6]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 13
  2. Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 101
  3. Foerster, Brien A Brief History Of The Incas: From Rise, Through Reign, To Ruin, CMYK Impresores
  4. Navarro, Juan Director of the Paracas History Museum 2012
  5. Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 98
  6. Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 155
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