Ancient East Asians intentionally modified their skulls

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Artificially elongated skulls have been discovered in an ancient tomb in China.

According to research published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons at the Houtaomuga site in northeastern China.

11 of the skulls had been intentionally modified: the braincases were elongated, and flattened bones were found at the front and back of the head.

The 11 modified skulls date back to between 12,000 to 5,000 years ago. They belonged to five adults — four men and one woman — and six children.

The practice of artificial cranial deformation is typically done in infancy, when the baby's skull is still soft and malleable. The head can either be compressed using hands, wrapped tightly with cloth, or shaped using boards. According to Science alert, it has no negative impact on cognitive function.

Researchers say the practice of skull reshaping was a marker of social status, and may have been reserved for high-status individuals.

In one tomb, a three-year-old with an elongated skull was found buried with large amounts of pottery and artifacts, suggesting the child was from a rich family.

Intentionally reshaped skulls have previously been found in other parts of the world, in southeastern Australia and western Asia.

To know more about the ancient practice, scientists say more research will need to be conducted to compare Houtaomuga with other Neolithic sites around the world.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Skeletons with modified skulls unearthed in Houtaomuga
2. Modified skulls belonged to 5 adults, 6 children
3. How skull modification is done
4. Skull modification as marker of social status
5. Other evidence of skull modification around the world

VOICEOVER (in English):
"According to research published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons at the Houtaomuga site in northeastern China."

"11 of the skulls had been intentionally modified: the braincases were elongated, and flattened bones were found at the front and back of the head."

"The 11 modified skulls date back to between 12,000 to 5,000 years ago. They belonged to five adults — four men and one woman — and six children."

"The practice of artificial cranial deformation is typically done in infancy, when the baby's skull is still soft and malleable."

"The head can either be compressed using hands, wrapped tightly with cloth, or shaped using boards. According to Science alert, it has no negative impact on cognitive function. "

"Researchers say the practice of skull reshaping was a marker of social status, and may have been reserved for high-status individuals."

"In one tomb, a three-year-old with an elongated skull was found buried with large amounts of pottery and artifacts, suggesting the child was from a rich family."

"Intentionally modified skulls have previously been found in other parts of the world, in southeastern Australia and western Asia."

SOURCES: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Science News, Science Alert
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ajpa.23888
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/east-asians-may-have-been-reshaping-their-skulls-12000-years-ago
https://www.sciencealert.com/asian-cultures-may-have-been-making-their-skulls-look-like-xenomorph-heads-12-000-years-ago