Currently reading : Forging the Skull
One of the less spoken about yet surprisingly widespread modifications to the body of the Old World, was that of the skull; known otherwise as Artificial Cranial Deformation. The practice, which was carried out by native peoples of just about every continent including The Huns, Rugii, Arawaks, Mayans, Macrocephali, Chinookans, the Egyptians and many more, was started towards the begining of the individuals development as a infant; in different ways depending on the choice and traditions of the tribal group. The Mayans and many other tribes from the America’s would use a cradleboard (a rigid device in which an infant would be strapped into and periodically subject to the pressure of a wooden board on the skull) to flatten the frontal bone and thus almost inverting the face. It would appear that the likes of both saharan and sub-saharan peoples of Africa favoured a method known formally as Sagittal or swaddling, which involved the skull being bound tightly by cloth or similar materials for an elongated final product.
The main obscurity on the subject of a.c.d is why it was actually carried out. 19th century scientist Ignatius Donelly theorised that the practice was born from a people who having already genetically possessed the trait of misshapen skulls, created this practice to accentuate the skull amongst themselves and generations to come. Other theories have included the correlative belief between head-shape and knowledge- which come alongside some more debatable theories relating to deity imitation; hypothetically and even literal in relation to extra-solar beings. Others suggest links to social class- as many hieroglyphic based depictions of royals show them with elongated skulls, as well as some just suggesting it was done for aesthetic and beautification as many similar modifications often have been.
The practice itself has subsided in most, if not all tribal instances- reduced mainly to the likes of isolated places in the south pacific such as Vanuatu and remains to be one of man’s most audacious and impressive alterations of the the body.