Friday, December 21, 2012

1,000 Year Old Deformed Cranium Found in Mexican Cementery

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In Sonora, Mexico archaeologists have found an 1,000 year old pre-Hispanic cemetery.  Where they found, 25 individuals; 13 have intentional cranial deformation and five also have dental mutilation, cultural practices which are similar to those of pre-Hispanic groups in southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, but until now, have not been seen in Sonora.

"The area's findings holds unique characteristics because it mixes cultural expressions of groups from the northern part of Mexico such as the use of shells and spiral shells originating from the Gulf of California, with western traditions never before seen in Sonora.  With this discovery, the limit of influence of the Mesoamerican people has been shown to be more extensive than what had been registered in Archaeology" said Archaeologist Cristina Garcia Moreno, director of the investigation project by Arizona State University with the approval of the Council of Archaeology of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), when data was discovered. (excavation season 2012)  

Turtle Shell placed over abdomen
Some of the individuals were wearing ornaments such as as bangles, nose rings, earrings, pendants made from shells, also one contained a turtle shell, carefully placed over the abdomen. However, the archaeologists noted that the burials were not accompanied by the expected offerings and containers.

Garcia Moreno said that there is no other site found in Sonora that show similar cranium deformation or dental modification.  "The closest cultural groups that had developed this traditions were in the northern part of Sinaloa and the Marismas Nacionales area (south of Sinaloa and north of Nayarit), and they had incorporated into their culture some western and Mesoamerican customs"

"Cranial deformation in Mesoamerican cultures was used to differentiate one social group from another and for ritual purposes, while dental mutilation in cultures such as the Nayarit was seen as a rite of passage into adolescence.  This is confirmed by the findings at he Sonora cemetery where the five bodies with dental mutilation are all over 12 years in age" as told by Garcia Moreno. 
In the case of this particular cemetery the social differences can't be recognized because all the burials found had the same characteristics. Some of them were wearing ornaments and others not, and only one of the 25 skeletons found was a female. The social distinctions were not found.

Of the 25 skeletons found, 17 were between 5 months and 16 years of age, 8 were adults.  Garcia Moreno said the number of infants and pre-pubescents identified may indicate a poor practice of the cranial deformations and death was mostly caused by excessive force in the process of squeezing the skull. The find has been dated to the year 943 CE (Common Era) from sample taken from one skeleton.

Why the cranial deformation was used to differentiate the social classes? Is this associated with this classes wanting to be more "God" like in appearance?.  If this is true, then we can associate the form of the cranium, more extended to the back with more cranial vault space to someone that this group saw sometime back in history. This may be why this people adapted as a custom the infant cranial deformation in higher classes to differentiate themselves from others in the community.  This customs can be found in many cultures all around the globe, cultures in different parts of the hemispheres that never had contact one with the other.  Then why we see the same deformations to simulate the same form of cranium all over the earth? These people were imitating the same person they saw as a powerful, intelligent being that was some kind of role model and was useful to follow and be as close as him as they can.  Are this long headed beings the "Gods" of our ancients all over the earth?  Did they use the same model to follow because they wanted or they were told to do it for some kind of other purpose?

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