Imagine conducting an archaeological dig in a Roman Empire cemetery and unearthing an eerily deformed skull.
Then imagine digging up dozens more.
That’s exactly what happened at a site in present-day Hungary. Once part of the Roman Empire, the dig site has the largest collection of these strange skulls ever discovered. They date back to the 5th century, and each one has an inhumanly elongated dome that reminds us of nothing so much as the classic “Gray” alien.
The truth is that body deformation has been practice around the globe for centuries. In China, girls had their feet bound. And in Europe during the last days of the Roman Empire, it was trendy to tightly wrap the skulls of infants to warp them into the elongated shape seen above.
Really puts our fad for plumped Kardashian lips (and other body parts) into perspective, doesn’t it?
Of the 96 grave sites excavated, 51 one of them had some kind of skull elongation. What’s really interesting is that the researchers were able to split the burials into 3 groups of successive generations. The earliest group (the grandmothers, if you will) had the lowest percentage of deformation with 30 percent. The middle group had more than double the number of elongated skulls, and the latest group saw 70 percent of the skulls bound.
Similar skulls have been found in other parts of Europe, including Croatia. Between 2014 and 2017, archaeologists there discovered the remains of three boys ranging from ages 12 to 16. Though their skulls weren’t quite as dramatically warped as the female skulls from Romania, they exhibited deformation.
The researchers think that the different types of skull deformation might have been an indicator of class or cultural group.
Weirdly enough, the Roman skulls from Hungary aren’t the most deformed ever found. For whatever reason, head binding has been practiced for centuries by different cultures. Researchers believe that Neolithic humans practiced head binding in Asia, but the earliest written record of this extreme body modification surfaced in 400 BC.
Up until the 1950s, the Mangbetu people of Africa commonly practiced Lipombo, a form of head binding that gave their skulls a distinctive narrow, elongated shape. The Mangbetu considered this shape to the most beautiful and elegant human form. Some members of the now-endangered tribe still choose to bind their children’s skulls.
The Paracas skulls–a group of extremely elongated skulls found in Peru–have been causing controversy ever since they were discovered in 1928.
The skulls are 3000-2000 years old and exhibit the most extreme cranial deformities ever discovered. For decades, researchers believed that they were just an exaggerated form of the type of head binding found in Europe and Africa. However, some researchers believe that the shape of the skull is actually a genetic defect.
The skulls were tested for DNA in 2014, and initially the results were truly bizarre. The preliminary findings indicated that the DNA had mutations never before seen in any other human or primate. You can imagine where everybody’s mind went: ancient aliens!
Unfortunately for us, further testing revealed that the skulls belonged to people with Syrian and Eastern European heritage. That was still quite a shock for the researchers. Since it was assumed that migration from those regions to the Americas didn’t happen until much, much later.
A Gallup poll from last year showed that a third of Americans believed aliens have visited our planet at some point. In other words, we want to believe. Archaeological finds like these skulls — or footage that seems to show UFOs — will always give us a thrill because they speak to our sense of wonder.