Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Alien Skulls....Or Not

In 1999, a burial site was discovered by residents of the small Mexican village of Onavas.  The burial site, dubbed, El Cementerio contained 25 separate sets of remains.  It represents the first pre-Hispanic cemetery found in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.
Workers discovered the cemetery while building an irrigation canal.  Researchers say the site, which may be 1,000 years old, contained an interesting find.  Almost half the skulls discovered at the site had a strange, alien shape.  A total of thirteen of the skulls were elongated and pointed at the back.  Five of these skulls also had mutilated teeth.

The strange find led to a flurry of Internet posts proclaiming the discovery of "Alien" skulls and bodies in Mexico.  Before jumping to such conclusions however, It's important to remember that the practice of intentionally deforming the skulls of children as they grew was a common practice in Central America and western Mexico.  This particular find seems to confirm that the tradition reached much further north than previously believed.

The ritual practice of cranial deformation involved the altering of a child's skull into a different, often elongated, shape.  It was usually done by binding wooden boards against the head for long periods of time.  Dental mutilation was done by filing or grinding the teeth into odd shapes.
The El Cementerio site contained seventeen children between the ages of five months and sixteen years of age.  This high number may indicate that the attempted cranial manipulation itself caused the deaths of some of the children.  It's unknown why the practice was used in this area.

Cristina García Moreno, archaeologist at Arizona State University replied to the rumors of alien remains:
"The most common comment I've read from people that see the pictures of cranial deformation has been that they think that those people were 'aliens,'" García said. "I could say that some say that as a joke, but the interesting thing is that some do think so. Obviously we are talking about human beings, not aliens."
García and her colleagues completed their initial analysis in November and will be releasing their research soon.

Perhaps the most curious component of such finds is trying to understand why the practice of cranial manipulation was practiced at all.  Several theories have been proposed over the years ranging from ritual practice to its use as a status symbol or class distinction.

Proponents of the Ancient Alien theory believe the practice may have been done to emulate visitors from other planets who came to earth in the distant past.  Elongated skulls have also been found in Egypt and it is interesting to note that both the Egyptians and cultures in Central and South America show a fascination with the stars, timekeeping and of course pyramids.  In the remote past, it's very possible that these civilizations received visitors from beyond, but so far, it doesn't look like any aliens are buried here.

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