Remains of people with modified skulls uncovered

Remains of seven individuals with intentionally modified skulls making them flatter and elongated were uncovered during excavations at Ali Kosh in West Iran. The remains date back to around 7500 BC.

Remains of an individual with an elongated skull (by Arkadiusz Sołtysiak)

The remains were discovered at the Prehistoric settlement where people lived around 9500-8500 years ago. According to Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, bioarchaeologist of Institute of Archaeology at University of Warsaw, the skulls of the individuals were intentionally deformed, making them conically elongated. He states that skull modifications were a practice widely spread among the population of the region in Neolithic times and lasted for thousands of years, even until the Bronze Age. The skulls belong to both men and women, yet the reasons behind the procedure are unknown. All of the uncovered remains were found under the floor of a rectangular building constructed with mud brick. Burying people under the floor was a normal custom in the region during the Stone Age. But the position in which they were placed was irregular, as they were buried in a crouched position with palms and knees close to the face, and feet and elbows by the pelvis. The researcher believes that the corpse had to bound which kept the remains in an unchanged position during decomposition.

Elongated skull (by Arkadiusz Sołtysiak)

The remains were removed from the soil in blocks of the surrounding clay. What was also found unusual was the lack of one of the upper right first incisor tooth in three male skeletons. It is suspected that it might have been caused through some ritual practice. No practices involving intentional removal of teeth has so far been documented within Near East Prehistoric communities.

(after Arkadiusz Sołtysiak & Nauka w Polsce)

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