Ignatius Donnelly

Artificial Deformation of the Skull

The practice of artificially deforming the skull was prevalent among various ancient civilizations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Evidence of this custom has been found in multiple regions and cultures, suggesting a widespread practice that originated from a common source.

Ancient American Practices

Examination of American monuments reveals that skull deformation was a common practice among ancient American peoples. Notable examples include:

  • Carib Islanders and North American Tribes: The custom of flattening the skull was notably observed among these groups.
  • Ancient Peruvians and Mexicans: Many flattened Peruvian skulls are depicted in Morton’s “Crania Americana.” This practice continues among the Flat-head Indians of the north-western United States.

Discoveries in Eurasia

The custom of skull deformation was not limited to the Americas:

  • Crimea: M. Rathke noted flattened skulls near Kertsch, linking them to ancient practices mentioned by Greek and Roman writers.
  • Avars and Huns: The Avars, a branch of the Uralian Turks, and the Huns under Attila also practiced head flattening.
  • Switzerland and Savoy: Similar deformed skulls have been discovered in these regions.

Continued Practices in Modern Times

Even in modern times, skull deformation practices persisted:

  • France and Turkey: Professor Anders Retzius highlighted the continuation of skull flattening in southern France and parts of Turkey.
  • Normandy and Brittany: In these regions of France, different head shapes were preferred and achieved through the use of bandages and tight caps on infants.

Archaeological Evidence and Common Practices

  • British Isles and Northern Europe: The same practice of using cradle-boards to flatten a child’s skull was prevalent in ancient Britain and northern Europe, suggesting continuity from prehistoric times.
  • Caledonians and Scandinavians: These groups, along with the Anglo-Saxons, exhibited similar cranial deformations.

Comparative Analysis of Skull Shapes

Comparative analysis shows striking similarities between ancient deformed skulls from different continents:

  • Swiss Skulls: Skulls from ancient cemeteries near Lausanne show significant deformation.
  • Peruvian Skulls: Shockingly distorted Peruvian skulls suggest intentional deformation for aesthetic or cultural reasons.
  • Central American Skulls: Heads from Palenque monuments indicate a natural receding forehead characteristic among the ancient people of Central America.

These practices indicate a cultural attempt to mimic the natural skull shapes of a once-dominant, possibly aristocratic race.

Cultural and Religious Implications

Skull deformation likely held cultural and religious significance:

  • Scythians and Huns: Hippocrates and Amedée Thierry mention the practice among these groups to denote aristocratic distinction.
  • Bone Caves of Brazil: Dr. Lund discovered ancient human skulls with excessive deformation, indicating a long-standing practice in South America.

Race and Ancestral Connections

The widespread practice of skull deformation suggests a deep-rooted cultural connection:

  • Egyptian Monuments: Egyptian priests are depicted with deformed heads, suggesting either artificial modification or a natural racial characteristic.
  • Inca Skulls: The receding forehead of Inca skulls appears natural, hinting at a common ancestry with other ancient civilizations.
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