суббота, 6 июля 2019 г.

12,000 years old elongated skulls found in northeastern China

Excavation of ancient Chinese tombs have revealed the oldest human skulls which were intentionally reshaped as part of a ritual to show status and wealth. At a site called Houtaomuga, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons dating to between 5,000 and 12,000 years ago and 11 had the egg-shaped craniums.











12,000 years old elongated skulls found in northeastern China
At a site called Houtaomuga, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons dating to between around 12,000 years ago
and 5,000 years ago. Of those, 11 featured skulls with artificially elongated braincases
and flattened bones at the front and back of the head [Credit: Q. Wang]

The practice of skull elongation — to signify group affiliation or social status — originally was thought to date back between 9,000 and 10,000 years. It was common in various tribal cultures around the world, such as the Mayans, North American natives and Aboriginal people.


The team, from Texas A&M University in Dallas, say five of the skulls belonged to adults, including four men and one woman.


The ages of death for all 11 skulls is estimated to range from three years old right up to 40. According to the study, skull reshaping was reserved for high-status individuals and certain families.


The three-year-old with the elongated skull was buried with pieces of pottery and other artefacts, suggesting he was from a wealthy family. The woman had a number of shell ornaments placed on her body, which indicates she was also of high status.











12,000 years old elongated skulls found in northeastern China
Artificially remodelled human skulls unearthed at a site in northeastern China include one of a man from around
12,000 years ago (left in this composite image) and another of a woman from about 5,000 years ago (right),
the study found [Credit: Q. Wang]

«It is too early to tell whether intentional cranial modification first emerged in East Asia and spread elsewhere or originated independently in different places,» paleoanthropologist Qian Wang.


Cranial modification, or skull stretching, occurred over a long stretch of time at the site than at any other archaeological dig the researchers said.


Skull stretching it isn’t a new phenomenon. The head moulding styles fell into three groups: flat, round or conical. Specific head modifications may have been used as signs of social status. Oddly shaped, intentionally stretched  skulls have been found in many parts of the world.


Permanent reshaping of a skull early in life, when cranial bones are soft, can be achieved by compressing an infant’s head with one’s hands. Binding the head with hard, flat surfaces such as boards or tightly wrapping the head in cloth similarly remodels immature cranial bones. 











12,000 years old elongated skulls found in northeastern China
Selection of elongated skulls found in Houtaomuga
[Credit: Qun Zhang et al. 2019]

Houtaomuga was excavated from 2011 to 2015 and the skulls found a the site add to a growing body of evidence of cranial reshaping from the site which stretches back 6,000 years, the study said.
A man’s skeleton with a modified skull was found in a tomb dating to between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, based on styles of pottery found in the same sediment layer.


Radiocarbon dating of the skeleton placed it at around 12,000 years old. Two sediment layers dating to between 6,300 and 5,000 years old contained 10 skeletons with reshaped skulls.


The research was published in the Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Author: Victoria Bell | Source: Daily Mail [July 04, 2019]



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