2,000-Year-Old Skeleton With Alien-Like Skull Is Leaving Scientists Completely Baffled

Around the world and throughout history, people have done all sorts of things to alter their physical appearances. There could be any number of reasons for this, from health purposes to simply wanting to look better.

For most people today, this could mean something like wearing makeup or working out. In many ancient cultures, however, it went much further than that.

Recently, archaeologists working in the Crimean Peninsula uncovered strange skeletons that showed signs of severe alteration that might make you cringe…

In the summer of 2017, archaeologists were exploring the city of Kerch, located on the disputed Crimean Peninsula, when they found a number of remnants of Sarmatian culture—including human remains. The Sarmatians were an advanced society of Iranian people that began in roughly the 5th century B.C.E. and continued for about 900 years afterwards.

YouTube / EMystery

Working in a burial site named Kyz-Aul, the discovery of human remains itself was not necessarily surprising, nor the fact that they found a well-preserved skeleton of a young child. What was surprising was the shape of his skull…

EMystery / YouTube

The skeleton dated back to the second century, and it had a copper bracelet around its wrist. In order to fully understand the importance of this find, though, it’s necessary to first know about the geopolitical situation around the region of Crimea…

ShantiUniverse / YouTube

Crimea used to be a part of Ukraine, which itself once belonged to the Soviet Union until 1991. Then, in 2014, Russian President Vladmir Putin annexed the territory. It’s physically separated from the Russian mainland by the Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea.

Qypchak / Wikimedia Commons

Putin kicked off a large-scale bridge building project in 2015 to connect Crimea to the Russian mainland, which was projected to be completed in 2019. The bridge would have three sections and span 12 miles. Since the burial site of Kyz-Aul was close to the Kerch Strait—and the construction would disrupting it—archaeologists wanted to be sure to dig while they still could.

GONEWS / YouTube

As for the skeleton itself, some people believe that it didn’t actually originate in Crimea… or this planet at all, based on the shape of the skull. It’s easy to see why folks would speculate that it belonged to an ancient alien…

EMystery / YouTube

Archaeologists and other scientists believed otherwise. They noted that, in ancient Sarmatian culture, it was quite common for people to have abnormally elongated skulls. Believe it or not, this was actually done on purpose!

Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons

The question, then, was why would they do such things? As strange as it may seem to most modern peoples, a long skull was once considered a sign of beauty. Children who had elongated skulls were also said to be destined to be great warriors.

YouTube / EMystery

This traditional process likely started when children were very young by wrapping cloth around their skulls as well as applying wooden boards. By the time they became adults, they would have more pronounced skulls.

The Sarmatians believed that they could increase the level of aggression in their warriors by lengthening their skulls. Interestingly, while the skeleton in question was male, the Sarmatian women were known to be extremely capable fighters, too.

Some historians have suggested that the Sarmatian female warriors were the inspiration behind the Amazons of legend. Unlike many other cultures throughout history, these women seemed to have been treated with great respect.

Euphronios / Wikimedia Commons

These kinds of skeletons were first found by archaeologists in 1826, when Paul Du Brux discovered similarly deformed skulls in an ancient Crimean burial ground. Still, it should be noted that other cultures practiced skull disfigurement, too.

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The first known record of this practice was from 400 B.C.E. in a text from highly esteemed Greek physician Hippocrates. He wrote about the Macrocephali, commonly known as “Longheads,” who apparently practiced cranial alteration.

Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons

It was practiced in several parts of the Americas, too, including the Maya of the Yucatan in what is now Mexico, who would deform skulls in two different styles. The Paracas of Peru had about five! It seemed that your skull shape was meant to denote your standing in society.

Trzęsacz / Wikimedia Commons

On several different island nations like Hawaii, Tahiti, and Malakula, human skulls were often both flattened in the back and lengthened at the top. These skulls were particularly flattened in Malakula.

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

Similar skull manipulation practices was not restricted just to ancient times or small, isolated tribes, either. For example, it was sometimes practiced, to a certain degree, in parts of southern France as little as a century ago!

J. Basire / Wikimedia Commons

In southern France’s rural Toulouse region, many people believed that there were significant health benefits to an artificially elongated skull. Apparently, it didn’t have much to do with cultural or religious reasons.

Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons

French peasants would secure cloth to infants’ skulls, which was believed to protect the heads of the children. Other European cultures in places like Russia and Scandinavia would bind their children’s heads, too.

Ernak Horde

Elsewhere, in places like Arkaim, known commonly as “Russia’s Stonehenge,” a 2,000-year-old elongated skull was even found. Once again, people thought it might be an alien, and once again, scientists tried to squash those rumors.

ShantiUniverse / YouTube

That might’ve been disappointing to alien enthusiasts, but that didn’t make the discovery of this unusual (to most modern people, at least) practice any less fascinating. Who knew that it was once so common to alter skulls?

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

It’s amazing to think that it was once normal to see people with elongated skulls everywhere you went. Could you imagine that happening to you?

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