Could human beings have had larger heads at one point, and possibly greater mental abilities? The answer to this question can only be speculated on, but it is definite that some humans had larger skulls at some point. The elongated skulls of Paracas are evidence of this. These remains prove that there were those who came before us with greater skull volume who were living in what is now southern Peru. Like many mysteries of the ancients, how exactly this came about is a great enigma to present day man.
Modified or Mysterious?
Often the mystery of the elongated skulls of Paracas is written off as intentional body modification, possibly practiced for aesthetic reasons. This is impossible, however. With artificial cranial deformation, which is a practice of body alteration that cultures all over the world have practiced in the past, the skull is elongated by head flattening or head binding when it is still malleable in the first months or years of life. The elongated skulls of Paracas are not only longer, but they are also larger.
According to Brien Foerster, who has extensively researched and written on the subject, some of these skulls had a cranial volume that was as much as 2.5 times as large as the average human skull today. This means that the mysterious skulls must have been the result of genetics, not body modification.
Be sure to listen to an interview we did with Brien Foerester here:
Discovering the Elongated Skulls of Paracas
The Paracas Peninsula was excavated by the great Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello in the 1920s. He found a series of tombs as well as the remains of a small underground village. Today most of these graves are filled with sand blown in from the nearby ocean. It was here that Tello found dozens of these strange skulls.
He believed the people of Paracas were related to another Andean culture, the Chavin culture, which is thought to have originated more than 3000 years ago. The only problem with this assumption is that no elongated skulls have been found within the remains of the Chavin culture. What was the genetic history of the Paracas culture?
Today about one dozen skulls can be viewed at the Paracas History Museum, which features artifacts from Inca and pre-Inca cultures. Until the elongated skulls of Paracas are more intensely researched, their origin and development will remain unexplained. Brien Foerster has taken samples from some of the skulls to try to gain more insight into their origin.
Were people really born with these massive heads?
The elongated skulls of Paracas were not the only strange skulls that have been discovered. Elongated heads were part of ancient Egyptian culture. The Olmecs of Mexico and ancient peoples of the Mediterranean and Melanesia were also thought to have these larger skulls, although they were not necessarily as large as the Paracas samples. It appears that theses other skulls were elongated artificially.
The Paracas skulls are unique. They have specific features, such as two small holes in the back of the skulls that are not present on normal human skulls. These physical features indicate that these skulls were elongated at birth. The question remains then, where did the genetic code for these skulls originate, or, are they really human skulls at all?
Our visit to the Paracas History Museum led to a wonderful conversation and explanation by Brien Forester (of the museum & of the Peru based Hidden Inca Tours Company) .
The Paracas History Museum, founded by Juan Navarro, is the only archaeological and human history museum in the immediate area. There was once a Julio Tello Museum in the Paracas Marine Reserve, but it was destroyed by an earthquake 4 years ago. This museum has the finest collection of Paracas, Nasca, Chavin, Lambayeque, Wari, Chincha and Inca artifacts on the south coast of Peru.
Beyond the fact that this museum, which is privately owned and has and asks for no government help what so ever, is a fine display of 10,000 years of human habitation in the area of Paracas, it also houses the largest collection of Elongated Human Skulls, in private hands, in the world.
10,000 Years Of Peru History In 5 Minutes