Ancient skull unravels early head reshaping practice

July 26th, 2010 - 2:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, July 26 (ANI): An ancient misshapen skull found near Swan Hill on the Murray River suggests that the inhabitants practiced body modification.

The skull, belonging to a tall and solidly built Aboriginal man, has a misshapen cranium.

Also, his bones reveal he had multiple breaks in both forearms, a fractured ankle so severe his shinbones fused together and arthritis in his jaw.

‘Death might have been something to look forward to for him,’ The Age quoted palaeo-anthropologist Peter Brown as saying.

‘You can only change the shape of the head in a baby because the skull is soft and malleable so it can pass through the birth canal,’ said Professor Brown,

from the University of New England.

‘It is clear from the archaeological record that a group of people living on the Murray River used to do this … between 10,000 and 13, 000 years ago,’ he


Brown added that massaging the brain doesn’t cause brain damage because it is a flexible organ.

Cranium manipulation was not an unusual practice - some reports suggest it was the most popular type of body modification after circumcision.

In Papua New Guinea some mothers would bind their babies’ heads with a tight bandage, which created a cone shape, while in South America babies were

sometimes bound to create a flat-shaped head, he said.

‘In the Netherlands and Denmark they used to put little caps on babies which used to change the shape of their heads. That was done until fairly recently,”

said Brown.

Brown’s findings are published in the Journal of Human Evolution. (ANI)

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