Artificial cranial deformation
Artificial cranial deformation, head flattening, or head binding is a form of body alteration in which the skull of a human being is intentionally deformed. It is done by distorting the normal growth of a child's skull by applying force. Flat shapes, elongated ones (produced by binding between two pieces of wood), rounded ones (binding in cloth) and conical ones are among those chosen. It is typically carried out on an infant, as the skull is most pliable at this time. In a typical case, headbinding begins approximately a month after birth and continues for about six months.
Intentional head moulding producing extreme cranial deformations was once commonly practised in a number of cultures widely separated geographically and chronologically, and so was probably independently invented more than once. It still occurs today in a few places, like Vanuatu.
Early examples of intentional human cranial deformation predate written history and date back to 45,000 BC in Neanderthal skulls, and to the Proto-Neolithic Homo sapiens component (12th millennium BC) from Shanidar Cave in Iraq. It occurred among Neolithic peoples in SW Asia.
In the Old World, Huns and Alans are also known to have practised similar cranial deformation. In Late Antiquity (AD 300-600), the East Germanic tribes who were ruled by the Huns, adopted this custom (Gepids, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Rugii and Burgundians). In western Germanic tribes, artificial skull deformations have rarely been found.
In the Americas the Maya, Inca, and certain tribes of North American natives performed the custom. In North America the practice was especially known among the Chinookan tribes of the Northwest and the Choctaw of the Southeast. The Native American group known as the Flathead did not in fact practise head flattening, but were named as such in contrast to other Salishan people who used skull modification to make the head appear rounder. However, other tribes, including the Choctaw, Chehalis, and Nooksack Indians, did practise head flattening by strapping the infant's head to a cradleboard. The Lucayan people of the Bahamas practiced it. The practice was also known among the Australian Aborigines.
The Paracas culture resided on the coast of Peru, south of the capital Lima. Some estimates are that this culture existed between 700 BC and 100 AD, but sources vary, mainly because very little carbon 14 testing has been conducted on organic materials found in the area. Julio C. Tello (1880 to 1947), the "father" of Peruvian archaeology, conducted archaeological digs around the Paracas area in 1927 and 1928 as a result of learning that tomb robbers had found large caches of funerary materials, including highly prized textiles, as well as ceramics and ceremonial offerings at a site called Cerro Colorado, which is now a protected area inside the Paracas Ecological Reserve. Little work has been done by archaeologists since Tello's time, but the plundering of the tombs of the nobility of this culture has gone on, ceaselessly, up to this very day. One intriguing aspect of this culture which has been overlooked by most researchers is the fact that the nobility practiced skull binding, resulting cranial deformation. The Paracas situation is somewhat unique in that researchers Juan Navarro and Brien Foerster have found the presence of at least 5 distinct shapes of elongated skulls, each being predominant in specific cemeteries. The largest and most striking are from a site called Chongos, near the town of Pisco, north of Paracas. These skulls are called "cone heads" by many who see them, because of their literal conical appearance.
There is no statistically significant difference in cranial capacity between artificially deformed skulls and normal skulls.
Friedrich Ratzel in The History of Mankind reported in 1896 that deformation of the skull, both by flattening it behind and elongating it towards the vertex, was found in isolated instances in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and the Paumotu group and occurring most frequently on Mallicollo in the New Hebrides (today Malakula, Vanuatu), where the skull was squeezed extraordinarily flat.
Methods and types 
Deformation usually begins just after birth for the next couple of years until the desired shape has been reached or the child rejects the apparatus (Dingwall, 1931; Trinkaus, 1982; Anton and Weinstein, 1999).
There is no established classification system of cranial deformations. Many scientists have developed their own classification systems, but none have agreed on a single classification for all forms that are seen (Hoshower et al., 1995).
In Europe and Asia, three main types of artificial cranial deformation have been defined by E.V. Zhirov (1941, p. 82):
Cranial deformation was probably performed to signify group affiliation, or to demonstrate social status. This may have played a key role in Maya society. It could be aimed at creating a skull shape which is aesthetically more pleasing or associated with desirable 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.
See also 
- Trinkaus, Erik (April 1982). "Artificial Cranial Deformation in the in Shanidar 1 and 5 Neandertals". Current Anthropology 23 (2): 198–199. doi:10.1086/202808. JSTOR 2742361.
- A. Agelarakis, "The Shanidar Cave Proto-Neolithic Human Population: Aspects of Demography and Paleopathology", Human Evolution, volume 8, no. 4 (1993), pp. 235-253.
- Christopher Meiklejohn, Anagnostis Agelarakis, Ralph Solecki, Philip Smith, Canada), Peter Akkerman , "On the Origins of Cranial Artificial Deformation in SW Asia", Paleorient, Volume 18 (1992), pp. 83-97; K.O. Lorentz, Ubaid headshaping, in R.A. Carter and G. Philip, Beyond the Ubaid (2010), pp. 125-148.
- Hippocrates upon Air, Water, and Situation: upon Epidemical Diseases, trans. Francis Clifton (1734), pp. 22-23.
- Facial reconstruction of a Hunnish woman, Das Historische Museum der Pfalz, Speyer
- Bachrach, Bernard S., A history of the Alans in the West: from their first appearance in the sources of classical antiquity through the early Middle Ages, U of Minnesota Press (1973), pp. 67-69
- Doris Pany and Karin Wiltschke-Schrotta, Artificial cranial deformation in a migration period burial of Schwarzenbach, Lower Austria, VIAVIAS, no. 2 (Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science 2008), pp. 18-23.
- http://www.americanindians.com/[not in citation given]
- Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, 2012, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 98
- Hatcher Childress, David and Foerster, Brien The Enigma Of Cranial Deformation: Elongated Skulls Of The Ancients, 2012, Adventures Unlimited Press, pp. 13
- Martin Frieß, Michel Baylac, Exploring artificial cranial deformation using elliptic Fourier analysis of procrustes aligned outlines, 2003, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol 122 Issue 1, pp. 18. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.10286/full
- Ratzel, Friedrich. The History of Mankind. (London: MacMillan, 1896). URL: www.inquirewithin.biz/history/american_pacific/oceania/dress-ornament.htm accessed 4 October 2009.
- Gerszten and Gerszten, 1995; Hoshower et al., 1995; Tubbs, Salter, and Oaks, 2006.
- Gerszten and Gerszten, 1995
- Ellen FitzSimmons, Jack H. Prost, Sharon Peniston, "Infant Head Molding, A Cultural Practice", Arch Fam Med, Vol 7, Jan/Feb 1998
- Adebonojo, F. O., "Infant head shaping". JAMA, 1991;265:1179.
- Henshen F. The Human Skull: A Cultural History . New York, NY: Frederick A Praeger, 1966
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Artificial cranial deformation|
- A short discussion of cranial deformation
- A Comparison of Images of Kushans from Coins and Sculpture
- Mathematical Analysis of Artificial Cranial Deformation
- Reconstruction of an Ostrogoth woman from a skull (intentionally deformed), discovered in Globasnitz (Carinthia, Austria) : , , , , .
- Elongated Skull Project