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Monday, November 26, 2012

INTERESTING, BUT ABOUT AS MUCH OF AN ALIEN AS I AM


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2 comments:

Richard Freeman said...

Its a human skeleton with an artificaly elongated skull. This is done by strapping boards (not Janet and Colin) to an infants head whilst the skull is still growning.

Dan said...

Five seconds of googling leads me to this URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_cranial_deformation

What we are seeing here is a skull from the Paracas culture/group from South America. This culture seemed to be doing two rather unusual things, based solely on the skeletal evidence.

Firstly, they were intentionally deforming the skulls of some or all of their infants, by binding them from a very early age. The evidence for this comes from tombs where the burials were especially rich in terms of grave goods; what has not been found is what happened to the bodies of the common people (the likes of you and I), so nobody can really say if skull deformation was universal or just the peccadillo of a small group.

Secondly, as the skulls show other deformations and abnormalities with causes other than the skull binding, I infer that the people whose bodies we find were a fairly inbred, small group, who were showing quite a few signs of a very restricted gene-pool.

It is a long-standing archaeological in-joke that whenever something is found that just doesn't make any logical sense, then the cause must be religious (a future archaeologist, looking back at an ancient archive of Facebook, is going to be really, seriously confused). In-joke aside, I really do think that what we're seeing here is the effects of a religion.

The Paracas people who had these artificially-deformed skulls seem to have been special in some way to that culture, and were treated differently to everyone else and apparently thought quite highly of, given the richness of their graves. There even seems to have been different styles of skull-binding that varied by geography, and the suggestion is that the practice was done only by the hereditary nobility of each group.

These were people at the tops of their societies who practised really rather extreme body modification and who married only within a fairly small gene-pool, producing weird-looking skeletons. They were entirely human, if really unusual humans. They weren't aliens.