Re: Skull binding and Neandertals

Patricia Lindsell (
24 Nov 1995 00:25:02 GMT

Organization: University of New England, NSW, Australia

Philip ( wrote:
: The only reasonable functional
: aspect of head binding is social differentiation which is only seen in
: more hiararchal societies, those associated with advanced civilization.
: Since we can assume that no highly advanced civilization was present or
: driving the transartic migrations, then it has also to be assumed that
: there the functional motivation was also not there.

Although social differentiation was often a factor in head binding, it
cannot be assumed that it is was always the motivating cause. The Arawe
of New Britain, for instance, thought that an artificially deformed head
was beautiful and there was no certainly no "class" distinction between
those with deformed heads and those without.

There is a inherant problem in this being the root cause for
: mesoamerican head binding. That problem is that one might expect the
: behavior to be present at all levels of civilization, from hunter
: gatherers up to the mesoamerican cities, because it is anticipated that a
: very few numbers of indiviuals originally colonized central and south
: america from asia. Since this is not seen and the phenomena is isolated
: to a certain region and not randomly scattered across the american
: continent this lends to the conclusion that this was an isolated
: development.

The custom of head binding was quite widespread throughout North, Central
and South America. It may have originated in Ecuador about
4000 years ago and spread northward and southward. The presence of the
custom in the Native american cultures of the Northwest Pacific Coast
of North America may be an example of independant origin. Some of the
cultures in which the custom was present did not have the highly
stratified societies found in the civilizations of mesoamerica. All I am
trying to point out here is that the custom of head binding was extremely
variable and difficult to generalize about.