An excavation of tombs in northeastern China has revealed the oldest human skulls that show clear evidence of having been artificially elongated in a ritual that, according to experts, served to demonstrate status and wealth.(elongated skulls)
On the site, called Houtaomuga, archaeologists unearthed 25 skeletons that date from 5,000 to 12,000 years, eleven of which have egg-shaped skulls.
The international team, made up of researchers from Jilin University in China and Texas A & M University in Dallas, reported that the modified skulls belonged to people between the ages of 3 and 40. Five belonged to adults: four men and one woman.(elongated skulls)
The skeleton of the 3-year-old boy with the elongated skull was buried along with pottery pieces and other artifacts, suggesting that he belonged to a wealthy family. The woman, on the other hand, was also accompanied by various ornaments.
Four of the artificially modified adult skulls found in Houtaomuga. To the right of each vignette, compared to natural elongated skulls.
According to the study presented, the cranial deformation was practiced in the region only by the elites, who in this way marked their lineage.
“It is too early to tell if this practice arose in East Asia and then spread to other places or if it originated independently in different places,” said paleoanthropologist Qian Wang.
However, what archaeologists are sure of is that the discovery in Houtaomuga shows that cranial deformation was practiced in the area for about 7,000 years, which is the longest period of time recorded so far.
The skulls of two children of 8 years, without (left) and with cranial deformation. (Zhang et al., American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2019).
“This area, in northeastern Asia, served as a center for the irradiation of human populations to other territories, such as central China, the Korean peninsula, the Japanese archipelago, eastern Siberia and possibly the American continent,” the researchers wrote an article. “Therefore, new materials found in the Neolithic site of Houtaomuga may keep secrets about the origin, diffusion, and meaning of intentional cranial deformation.”
The ancestral practice is usually carried out during childhood, when the baby’s skull is still soft and malleable, and the bones are not yet fully fused. The head can be wrapped tightly with cloth and boards, in such a way that it grows elongated, giving an “alien” appearance.
And it is that the theorists of the ancient astronauts suggest that the elongated skulls, beyond representing the high social status, were a tribute to the true aspect of the gods that in remote antiquity visited our planet.