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Still Waters

Can DNA solve the mystery of pointy skulls?

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Helen of Annoy
26 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

....but stupid ideas are particularly pungent and spread even faster and are harder to get rid of!

That's true. 

But extreme skull modification had to have impact on person's fitness, probably health too. Deforming the skull out of anatomically justified shape, squeezing and shifting the brain, it had to have caused all sorts of further damage: from painful and degenerated neck to actual brain damage. 

It's my personal opinion that people wouldn't render their children less physically fit in the times when physical fitness was much more directly important for the survival than it is today, if they didn't believe they're achieving something very valuable. Possibly 'just' a superstition, but isn't it interesting that there's this rather illogical superstition, requiring extreme bodily modification, all around the world?

Tattoos certainly may seem extreme, but they don't go deeper than skin. The only modifications that come close to skull deformations are neck elongation and feet binding, but these customs existed each in own geographical area only, never spread, never appeared anywhere else... which is logical, considering the damage. The presence of skull elongation was not limited to an area and it existed for thousands of years.

Not that I expect any sensational clues that could lead to the origin of that custom will be found soon, or ever, so to be honest, any discussion about them is mostly speculation.     

 

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Hanslune
Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Helen of Annoy said:

That's true. 

But extreme skull modification had to have impact on person's fitness, probably health too. Deforming the skull out of anatomically justified shape, squeezing and shifting the brain, it had to have caused all sorts of further damage: from painful and degenerated neck to actual brain damage. 

It's my personal opinion that people wouldn't render their children less physically fit in the times when physical fitness was much more directly important for the survival than it is today, if they didn't believe they're achieving something very valuable. Possibly 'just' a superstition, but isn't it interesting that there's this rather illogical superstition, requiring extreme bodily modification, all around the world?

Tattoos certainly may seem extreme, but they don't go deeper than skin. The only modifications that come close to skull deformations are neck elongation and feet binding, but these customs existed each in own geographical area only, never spread, never appeared anywhere else... which is logical, considering the damage. The presence of skull elongation was not limited to an area and it existed for thousands of years.

Not that I expect any sensational clues that could lead to the origin of that custom will be found soon, or ever, so to be honest, any discussion about them is mostly speculation.     

 

If it caused such problem why was it continued and seemingly done for centuries? Unknown.

Yes it may have meant inclusion within a special group, in a world without any type of identification a modification to the body that could not be faked (like a password, tattoo, hair style or clothing might have had value.

People would have been very aware that a baby's head is quite pliable and it may have arisen from that.

Now anthropologically head modification existed up to historic times and if I recall it was done because it was a tradition to do so.

Edited by Hanslune
corrected spelling of baby
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The Wistman
35 minutes ago, Pettytalk said:

She got the point I was making, as it was all meant just to make the point clear. In the past I have gone to the rescue of some who never asked, or could not ask, trying to help them, and animals among them too. And if I cannot help them by interacting physically, then I try to warn them, as a general rule. Most of the pets my family and I have had are all rescued animals, either from the streets or from the animal shelters. A couple of times I have placed my life in peril trying to quickly swerve to avoid hitting animals on the road while I was driving, etc.

I would have imagined that you, Wistman, knowing a little about me, knew of my efforts to help many understand. And where not only have they not asked for it, but actually throw stones back at me for persisting with my repetitive attempts to help them understand. And if they would only allow me, they would be spared some unnecessary, and unexpected pain in the future. Those are like wounded animals (wounded ego) that mentally feel pain whenever I try to help them rid their prejudice thoughts, to better understand the truth through my own helpful thoughts.

Thanks for that clarification Petty.  I confess I have my own buttons that set me off.  No offense intended.

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Helen of Annoy
1 hour ago, The Wistman said:

 

The enduring question is the one you posit I think...what is the originating model for this practice that so many cultures performed on their (elite?) infants, or was there a socio-religious impulse that had ubiquitous, transcontinental appeal?  What other body modification styles were as widespread as this one?  Ear piercing...?  Was it something actual that they saw in nature that they wanted to infuse into their culture (as with insects or horned mammals, etc.); or is there, say, a spiritual or archetypal origination that arises automatically in discrete 'primitive' societies, or was it simply a method of conferring elite status?    High crowns and headgear are ubiquitous across cultures and exist to this day (observe the Pope's mitre and crown, and his bishops'), or the White Crown of Ancient Egypt.  Was the deformation simply a status exemplar, or was it, as apparently it was with the Mayans, a metaphysical prescription or expression.

What is confusing me is the physical fitness factor (I mentioned in my post above). 

While I understand royals of ancient Egypt could afford to have their children modified to look like the embodiment of their possibly archetypal, spiritual ideal, I have great trouble accepting that nomads on the move from East Asia to Western Europe, with all the side- and round-trips, would lessen any child's physical abilities for no other reason than looking more noble. 

In my own opinion, they had to have a belief they're changing the child in such way it will not only compensate for the physical fitness loss, but also make the child more able than it would be without ritual modification. 

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Helen of Annoy
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

If it caused such problem why was it continued and seemingly done for centuries? Unknown.

Yes it may have meant inclusion within a special group, in a world without any type of identification a modification to the body that could not be faked (like a password, tattoo, hair style or clothing might have had value.

People would have been very aware that a bavy's head is quite pliable and it may have arisen from that.

Now anthropologically head modification existed up to historic times and if I recall it was done because it was a tradition to do so.

Now, that's one plausible idea. An identification that could not be faked. Each tribe had own style, so yeah, definitely could be supported with that. And once the need to identify got lost, as the tribes merged, the custom remained because - yes, I absolutely agree - a lot of stupid customs remain. God forbid something positive remains, but if it's stupid, it sticks. 

Now, forgive me for I'll sound stubborn, but it doesn't explain why it wasn't a simple nose flattening or ear cutting or... why they went with something that actually can, in fact, disrupt the brain function? I'm not saying they knew what brain damage is, but they could notice the procedure makes people who had it more prone to all sorts of problems: from headaches and limited movement to epileptic seizures.  

Edited by Helen of Annoy
Unless they wanted to 'invoke' epilepsy, as one of the theories suggests.
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Hanslune
1 minute ago, Helen of Annoy said:

Now, forgive me for I'll sound stubborn, but it doesn't explain why it wasn't a simple nose flattening or ear cutting or... why they went with something that actually can, in fact, disrupt the brain function? I'm not saying they knew what brain damage is, but they could notice the procedure makes people who had it more prone to all sorts of problems: from headaches and limited movement to epileptic seizures.  

Cultural traps: these are traditions that cultures once did that had some purpose that was helpful but as the situation changed they became less so but because it was traditional the action continued even if the original purpose was no longer needed.

The simple solution is that they didn't notice any problems caused by the modification if it in fact does cause such problems.

 

 

 

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Helen of Annoy
10 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

Cultural traps: these are traditions that cultures once did that had some purpose that was helpful but as the situation changed they became less so but because it was traditional the action continued even if the original purpose was no longer needed.

The simple solution is that they didn't notice any problems caused by the modification if it in fact does cause such problems.

 

 

 

Yes, it may cause problems with brain too, hence the official theory with attempting to set epilepsy off. (Personally, I don't think it was the case, but the theory is there, mentioned by archaeologists in the articles in the beginning of this thread.)

And it definitely does have an impact on the spine, since it shifts the weight of the head. (Another completely serious theory proposes the skulls were deformed to fit better into the ideal helmet. I won't comment it because there's nothing good I could say about that particular theory.)

All in all, they had to notice it is a practice that has its consequences, which were even more serious for the people in 5th century than they would be for us today. This is why I remain convinced they must have had a reason beyond pure identification or vanity. Most likely a spiritual (superstitious, if anyone prefers) reason, 'upgrading' the child with abilities that will more than compensate for the physical issues.  

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Hanslune
21 minutes ago, Helen of Annoy said:

hence the official theory with attempting to set epilepsy off.

"official" no just the opinion of that paper nothing official about it all.

Sorry, I'm not finding the word epilepsy in those articles on the first post either I'm missing it or they used a different word.

If you want to find out about problems with head binding you'd have to look at the anthropological studies done of tribes that were still doing it in historic times.

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RabidMongoose
Posted (edited)
On 8/21/2019 at 8:39 PM, Still Waters said:

Skull modification may have been an extreme way to declare one's identity during the Migration Period (ca. 300-700 A.D.), when so-called "barbarian" groups like the Goths and the Huns were vying for control of territory in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Could ancient DNA help archaeologists pinpoint what exactly those cultural alliances were?

At a site called Hermanov vinograd in eastern Croatia, archaeologists recently found a peculiar burial pit that contained the remains of three teenage boys. The teens were buried sometime between 415 and 560 A.D.

Two of the boys had artificially deformed skulls, and a DNA analysis, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, has now revealed another curious fact: The three boys buried together all had dramatically different genetic backgrounds.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/08/can-dna-solve-mystery-europe-pointy-skulls/

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?

Have any been found with a strong DNA profile of other homo species?

I ask because with some of their craniums its not just elongation but their sutures arent right for our species. 

Edited by RabidMongoose

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Helen of Annoy
Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

"official" no just the opinion of that paper nothing official about it all.

Sorry, I'm not finding the word epilepsy in those articles on the first post either I'm missing it or they used a different word.

If you want to find out about problems with head binding you'd have to look at the anthropological studies done of tribes that were still doing it in historic times.

Well, we had few good posts exchanged. It's a start :D An record, in fact :lol: 

I didn't read any studies, my interest is purely amateur, but I trust Šimun Anđelinović, chief of forensics department at University of Split (yes, that's the actual name of the town, no, it does not mean the same in Croatian as it does in English) and the head of Pathology institute at Clinical centre in Split, as well as Mario Šlaus, director of Anthropological centre at Croatian Academy of Science and Art in Zagreb, who kindly gave an overview of current scientific theories regarding elongated heads. 

The article: 

 https://www.24sata.hr/news/tajna-lubanja-duze-od-drugih-a-nitko-ne-zna-kome-pripadaju-358406

If you've got reasons to doubt Mr. Anđelinović's or Mr. Šlaus's credibility, do let me know them. 

 

 

33 minutes ago, RabidMongoose said:

Have any been found with a strong DNA profile of other homo species?

I ask because with some of their craniums its not just elongation but their sutures arent right for our species. 

No, these are just plain modern humans. One with East Asian, one with Middle Eastern and one with Eastern European genome. As the article in the OP states.  

Edited by Helen of Annoy
spelling. and extra 'the'. I knew it. sorry.

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The Wistman

The Vanuatu tribe of the Tomman Island performed head shaping until the late 20th C:

Quote

One modern theory is cranial deformation was likely performed to signify group affiliation,[24][26][27] or to demonstrate social status. Such motivations may have played a key role in Maya society,[26] aimed at creating a skull shape that is aesthetically more pleasing or associated with desirable cultural attributes. For example, in the Nahai-speaking area of Tomman Island and the south south-western Malakulan (Australasia), a person with an elongated head is thought to be more intelligent, of higher status, and closer to the world of the spirits.[28]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_cranial_deformation

(However, according to Dr. Vera Tiesler, the Maya at least may have had another motivation for their head-shaping [see my post #86 above])

Quote

In Polynesia, the tradition still (rarely) occurs, as it does in the people of Mangbetu tribe, of Congo. In Vanuatu, the shape is associated with famous folk heroes and religion. A person from Malekula, an island in the Vanuatu chain, told the veteran anthropologist Kirk Huffman: “it originates with the basic spiritual beliefs of our people. We see that those with elongated heads are more handsome or beautiful, and such long heads also indicate wisdom.”

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/head-space-artificial-cranial-deformation

a.jpg.e8b300fef3808900aabe160efaa5c2f8.jpg

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Hanslune
33 minutes ago, Helen of Annoy said:

Well, we had few good posts exchanged. It's a start :D An record, in fact :lol: 

I didn't read any studies, my interest is purely amateur, but I trust Šimun Anđelinović, chief of forensics department at University of Split (yes, that's the actual name of the town, no, it does not mean the same in Croatian as it does in English) and the head of Pathology institute at Clinical centre in Split, as well as Mario Šlaus, director of Anthropological centre at Croatian Academy of Science and Art in Zagreb, who kindly gave an overview of current scientific theories regarding elongated heads. 

The article: 

 https://www.24sata.hr/news/tajna-lubanja-duze-od-drugih-a-nitko-ne-zna-kome-pripadaju-358406

If you've got reasons to doubt Mr. Anđelinović's or Mr. Šlaus's credibility, do let me know them. 

 

 

No, these are just plain modern humans. One with East Asian, one with Middle Eastern and one with Eastern European genome. As the article in the OP states.  

Nope, sorry not an expert in that field. If you wish to except his ideas fine. If you want clarification on his stand I suggest you email and discuss it with him.

Oh, I'm quite familiar with Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, and Slovenes+ plus the geography of the former Yugoslavia! I was involved in the Third Balkan War (tangentially).

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Helen of Annoy
36 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

Nope, sorry not an expert in that field. If you wish to except his ideas fine. If you want clarification on his stand I suggest you email and discuss it with him.

Yes, I definitely wish to accept an anthropologist's (and forensic's too) 'ideas', but no, I have absolutely zero need for any clarifications of extremely simple concepts. 

Thanks for the advice anyway. It's nice to see patronizing that almost looks like politeness.   

 

36 minutes ago, Hanslune said:

Oh, I'm quite familiar with Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, and Slovenes+ plus the geography of the former Yugoslavia! I was involved in the Third Balkan War (tangentially).

Congratulations.   

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Helen of Annoy
53 minutes ago, The Wistman said:

The Vanuatu tribe of the Tomman Island performed head shaping until the late 20th C:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_cranial_deformation

(However, according to Dr. Vera Tiesler, the Maya at least may have had another motivation for their head-shaping [see my post #86 above])

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/head-space-artificial-cranial-deformation

a.jpg.e8b300fef3808900aabe160efaa5c2f8.jpg

So we know this was definitely about intervening in the intelligence and spirituality of the person for them. Since they're pretty far from tribes that were circulating Europe around 5th century, we can't really just equate it, but it certainly sounds like a reason good enough for such a radical modification.

 

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Harte
7 hours ago, Hanslune said:

....but stupid ideas are particularly pungent and spread even faster and are harder to get rid of!

A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.

Harte

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Harte
6 hours ago, Helen of Annoy said:

What is confusing me is the physical fitness factor (I mentioned in my post above). 

While I understand royals of ancient Egypt could afford to have their children modified to look like the embodiment of their possibly archetypal, spiritual ideal ...

AFAIK, no evidence of skull modification has been found from Ancient Egypt.

Harte

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Harte
4 hours ago, Helen of Annoy said:

So we know this was definitely about intervening in the intelligence and spirituality of the person for them. Since they're pretty far from tribes that were circulating Europe around 5th century, we can't really just equate it, but it certainly sounds like a reason good enough for such a radical modification.

 

This is not what The Wistman's link says.

Harte

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Thanos5150

World’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils found in Morocco (300,000 BP)

homosapiens_0607_main.jpg?itok=jBLywFNT

From the CNN article of the same:

Quote

But what the researchers found to be most remarkable about these fossils is that they capture a moment in time of evolution. The facial features of the skull look like a modern human, but the brain case is very elongated and archaically characteristic of early humans....

But that elongated skull would give them away as being not quite like us. Their brains, and specifically the cerebellum, wasn't shaped like ours. But based on the brain case they discovered, these Homo sapiens did have a larger cerebellum than Neanderthals.


Neanderthal skull compared to a modern human:

skulls.jpg

Among other differences, highly elongated with considerably larger cranial capacity.

Skull of 2yr old Neanderthal child "Dederiyeh 1":

027cdd714e3abcd9c61f98ea6482aced.jpg

Israel, Skhul and Qafzeh hominins c. 80,000-120,000BP:

4c5e8e9802da0d250a43a62dbe5bf4c4.jpg

Cro-Magnon skull (originating in Europe c.40,000BP), like Neanderthal, also elongated with larger comparable cranial capacity:

6184631_orig.png?0  

Again, 12,000 years old elongated skulls found in northeastern China:

The skull on the left dates from 10,000BC, the right 3,000BC: 

China-skulls-02.jpg

There is also the question of what is the morphology of the yet to be discovered Denisovan skull. 

My research has led me to the conclusion the origins of the elongated skull phenomenon is due to interbreeding among various early species and sub species as well as their offspring all of which at some point interbred with modern humans.  These unions caused various elongated skull types, largely separated into three main groups: hyper ovoid ("cone head"), Cro-Magnoid, and Ubadian, that at some point were revered. It was some time during the neolithic/chalcolithic period the practice of artificial cranial deformation was adopted to emulate these groups which with the Ubaid c.6th/5th millennium became symbols of kingship/gods:

Al_Ubaid_Reptilians_Cover.png

Compilation of Reptilian Ubaid period Artifacts

  Mesopotamia:

3abc3a1809344804ac2d9b2dbfa57d70_th.jpg

 

Egypt:

68323.JPG

 

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Hammerclaw
On 8/21/2019 at 3:57 PM, Piney said:

The "Huns" were a group similar to the Cossacks. People from all over the steppe who banded together rather than be part of a Empire who probably took in outcasts.

Iranian, Germanic and Turkic names were found among them and the group as a whole probably didn't have one primary language. That's why nobody was ever able to identify their ethnic origins.

Another interesting fact about the Huns is they never harmed farmers, herders or raided small villages. They just peacefully interacted with them and went straight after the cities and the wealthy.  

The Huns were well known for their cranial deformations giving them a frightening--to Roman eyes--alien look.

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Piney
2 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

The Huns were well known for their cranial deformations giving them a frightening--to Roman eyes--alien look.

Yup.....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns#Artificial_cranial_deformation

And the fact that they didn't bath, groom or wear dressed skins, which is one of the reasons I hypothesize they were outcasts from different Iranic, Uralic and Turkic tribes who practiced certain religious proscriptions, for example Attila only using simple wooden utensils.

I read everything Maenchen-Helfen and Thompson wrote. 

 

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Hammerclaw
Just now, Piney said:

Yup.....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns#Artificial_cranial_deformation

And the fact that they didn't bath, groom or wear dressed skins, which is one of the reasons I hypothesize they were outcasts from different Iranic, Uralic and Turkic tribes who practiced certain religious proscriptions, for example Attila only using simple wooden utensils.

I read everything Maenchen-Helfen and Thompson wrote. 

 

An affectation. Attila was raised in Rome and was well educated and surrounded there by all the luxuries afforded a well-to-do Roman lifestyle.

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Sir Wearer of Hats
1 minute ago, Hammerclaw said:

An affectation. Attila was raised in Rome and was well educated and surrounded there by all the luxuries afforded a well-to-do Roman lifestyle.

Was it Vercingetorix (the famous Gaulish general) who had much the same upbringing? The Roman ideal of ‘we’ll romanise them and they’ll be more like us than them’ often bit them on the bum. 

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Piney
Just now, Hammerclaw said:

An affectation. Attila was raised in Rome and was well educated and surrounded there by all the luxuries afforded a well-to-do Roman lifestyle.

Your source for this? 

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Piney
1 minute ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Was it Vercingetorix (the famous Gaulish general) who had much the same upbringing? The Roman ideal of ‘we’ll romanise them and they’ll be more like us than them’ often bit them on the bum. 

Nope, and I don't think Attila was either. 

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Sir Wearer of Hats
4 minutes ago, Piney said:

Nope, and I don't think Attila was either. 

Who was it then... some “barbarian” who was adopted into Roman society and then b*****ed off back to his people and caused havoc for Rome. Hannibal? The Chappy responsible for the Tutenburg Forest massacre? 

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