Alien-like skulls found in a cemetery in Mexico. It has been unearthed for at lease 1,000 years. The skulls were retrieved by accident when a dig for an irrigation system turned up an ancient cemetery in the northwest state of Donora.
The researchers believed that the deformations of the human skull were part of an ancient ritual practiced of deforming skulls of children, as they grew common in Central America around 1000 years ago. These findings suggest the tradition spread farther north than had been thought, scientists added. Pieces of wood would sandwich a person’s head and the wrapped to the front of an individual’s head to apply pressure on the skull.
The cemetery is referred as “El Cementerio,” it contained the remains of 25 humans burials. Thirteen of them had deformed skulls, 17 of the 25 were children between five months and 16 years of age. One person was buried with a turtle shell on the chest. It remains uncertain why some of these people were buried with ornaments while others were not, or — another mystery — why only one of the 25 skeletons was female.
The high number of children seen at the site could suggest inept cranial deformation killed them due to excessive force against the skull. The children had no signs of disease that caused their deaths.
Several other artifacts like pendants, nose rings and jewelry were also found in the digging. Also dental mutilation or grinding teethes into odd shapes, while cranial deformation involves distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force.
“Cranial deformation has been used by different societies in the world as a ritual practice, or for distinction of status within a group or to distinguish between social groups,” said researcher Cristina García Moreno, an archaeologist at Arizona State University. “The reason why these individuals at El Cementerio deformed their skulls is still unknown.”
“The most common comment I’ve read from people who see the pictures of cranial deformation has been that they think that those people were ‘aliens,'” García added. “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 of aliens.”
The researchers suggest the people at El Cementerio had been influenced by recent migrants from the south.
“The most important implication would be to extend the northern boundary of the Mesoamerican influence,” García told LiveScience.
During the next field season, the researchers aim to determine the cemetery’s total size and hope to find more burials to get a clearer idea of the society’s burial customs. “With new information, we also hope to determine whether there was any interaction between these and Mesoamerican societies — how it was and when it happened,” they said.
García and her colleagues completed their analysis of the skeletal remains in November. They plan to submit their research to either the journal American Antiquity or the journal Latin American Antiquity.