Re: Skull binding and Neandertals

Patricia Lindsell (
12 Nov 1995 23:49:43 GMT

H. M. Hubey ( wrote:
: I seem to remember reading in history that
: the Huns practiced binding the heads of
: children so that they got high foreheads.
: I also seem to remember that some American
: Indian tribe also did so. It's hard to
: imagine that it would be completely independently
: developed, so I'd guess that it came from Asia
: someplace and the custom might go back about
: 13,000 years or more.
: What if the custom goes back even further,
: perhaps back to the days of the Neadertals
: and that they were doing this to look like
: Cro-magnons and that the custom just got
: stuck in some rut in some tribe lost from
: the rest of humanity and survived. Would this
: not indicate that the two were mixing and that
: somehow there was a premium placed on not
: being flat-topped?

Eric Trinkaus has argued that some of the Neanderthal crania
from Shanidar, Iraq, are artificially deformed. Recent evidence
regarding Shanidar 5 makes this unlikely and in any case the skulls
do not have high foreheads.

The effect of artifical deformation on the skull is very variable
mainly because the great variety of methods used to deform the head.
Some types do give the impression of having a high forehead, although
the actual effect is to flatten the natural curvature of the frontal

At present the earliest evidence for the custom is dated to the
terminal Pleistocene with examples from Northern China and Australia.

If you want detailed info please email.

Patty Lindsell
Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England
Armidale NSW Australia