Mummy Skulls, Cahuachi

Mummy Skulls, Cahuachi



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Artificial cranial deformation

Artificial cranial deformation or modification, head flattening, or head binding is a form of body alteration in which the skull of a human being is deformed intentionally. It is done by distorting the normal growth of a child's skull by applying force. Flat shapes, elongated ones (produced by binding between two pieces of wood), rounded ones (binding in cloth), and conical ones are among those chosen or valued in various cultures. Typically, the shape alteration is carried out on an infant, as the skull is most pliable at this time. In a typical case, headbinding begins approximately a month after birth and continues for about six months.


How Ancient Embalmers Pulled the Brains and Guts Out of Mummies

We've unearthed mummy upon mummy from Egypt, the oldest dating back to 3500 B.C. , but one thing has remained a bit of a mystery: what does the mummification process actually entail from a surgical point of view? How did they remove the brains, guts, and other vital organs—what tools did they use and how did they train for it? One anthropologist thinks he's found out.

Much like a 46-million-year-old mosquito fossilized mid-meal , Egyptian mummification has long provided us embalmed snapshots of an ancient way of life. Just last week, we found out why King Tut's mummy had not been preserved in the most kingly fashion: his body seemingly experienced ignition inside its sarcophagus due to a flammable cocktail of oxygen, embalming oils, and combustible linens.

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One myth of mummy-making has long appealed to our, or perhaps just my, gross sensibilities: mushy brain parts were usually removed from Egyptian mummies and flushed out through the nose, we’ve been told. And that's not all: more often than not, they were disemboweled and rid of their internal organs as well, to stop decomposition.

In a paper published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science , Dr. Andrew Wade at the University of Western Ontario investigated the literal ins and outs of organ-removal techniques. Wade looked at films and forensic scans from a sample of 50 human Egyptian mummies, noting that there were two main methods of both excerebration (brain removal) and evisceration (body organ removal). Occurrences of brain and organ removal actually increased over time, as mummification was expanded to non-royals.

As Wade explained to Gizmodo over email, methods of brain removal were precise and step-by-step:

In the first, which we see lots of, the brain is removed through a hole made by inserting a metal rod up the nose and breaking through to the braincase. In the second, for which we only have unconfirmed anecdotal evidence, the brain is removed by making an incision in the back of the neck and removing it through the hole in the base of the skull where the spinal cord exits the skull.

The former technique, known as transnasal craniotomy (TNC), is the one we've heard the most about because it's widely supported by tangible evidence. It's interesting to note, however, that the Egyptians confused the function of the brain with that of the heart, assuming that the latter was the center of emotion, thought, and personality—which explains why they disposed of the brain, since they figured it would be of no use in the afterlife.

For years, the widely-held belief was that excerebration was conducted with a hook pushed up the nose into the cranial cavity. Greek historian Herodotus is largely to blame for this, as his fifth century B.C. account of Egyptian mummification stated that embalmers "take first a crooked piece of iron, and with it draw out the brain through the nostrils, thus getting rid of a portion, while the skull is cleared of the rest by rinsing with drugs."

His theory has since been dispelled by the discovery of brain-removal tools that were left in the skull of two mummies, both of which were organic sticks that are believed to have liquefied parts of the brain and removed other sections. According to Wade, most researchers now agree that the Egyptians "broke through the bone with a tool like the hook, used some sort of tool to blend up the brain, and then either allowed it to drain out the nose or flushed it out with water or palm wine or something to that effect." That being said, Wade found that the brain did sometimes remain in the skull, mummified along with the body, although the evidence doesn't suggest a clear pattern of occurrence.

Evisceration, on the other hand, expelled organs that the Egyptians wanted to preserve, usually in one of two ways:

In the first, the best known, the organs are removed through a slit in the left side of the abdomen. In the second, and less frequent method, the organs were removed through the anus, vagina, or a combination of the two. Because it's difficult to clearly identify the route (the legs are wrapped pressed together, so there's lots of skin folds and resin pooled here) we looked at these together as evisceration through the perineal area.

Yet again, Herodotus's account was a bit off-base: he claimed that penny-pinchers could get a quickie evisceration with just a cedar oil enema, a toxic brew that "brings with it the whole stomach and intestines in a liquid state." Wade's findings didn't show extensive proof of cedar oil use—instead, they indicated that social status played a role: transperineal evisceration was only employed during mummification of noble women.

Since the Egyptians placed great value on a comfortable afterlife, they believed you would need access to certain key organs. So, post-evisceration, the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines were dried and stored in four canopic jars that were then kept with the body. As per mummy law, the heart was supposed to stay inside the body, considered integral to an Egyptian's success in the afterlife. But that wasn't always the case, Wade explained to Gizmodo:

As for the removal of the heart, it is my feeling that this important organ was being intentionally removed from commoner mummies in order to ensure that the elite would save a more favorable afterlife for themselves. The data from my studies and from others support the preferential retention of that important organ (the organ of emotion and intelligence) in elites and its absence in commoners. So, the commoners having their hearts removed may simply not have known that their mummies weren't going to keep their hearts, while the elites could retain all of their faculties and enjoy the afterlife as they did their life.

Tough break for the commoners, Iɽ say, although it wasn't uncommon, after all (pardon the pun). Some rituals were simply reserved for the elite. A snippet from a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead elucidates this further (Faulkner, 1985:156): "As for any noble dead for whom this ritual is performed over his coffin, there shall be opened for him four openings in the sky…. As for each one of these winds which is in its opening, its task is to enter into his nose. No outsider knows, for it is a secret which the common folk do not yet know you shall not perform it over anyone, not your father or your son, except yourself alone. It is truly a secret, which no-one of the people should know."


The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine

The last line of a 17th century poem by John Donne prompted Louise Noble’s quest. “Women,” the line read, are not only “Sweetness and wit,” but “mummy, possessed.”

Sweetness and wit, sure. But mummy? In her search for an explanation, Noble, a lecturer of English at the University of New England in Australia, made a surprising discovery: That word recurs throughout the literature of early modern Europe, from Donne’s “Love’s Alchemy” to Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene,” because mummies and other preserved and fresh human remains were a common ingredient in the medicine of that time. In short: Not long ago, Europeans were cannibals.

Noble’s new book, Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, and another by Richard Sugg of England’s University of Durham, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians, reveal that for several hundred years, peaking in the 16th and 17th centuries, many Europeans, including royalty, priests and scientists, routinely ingested remedies containing human bones, blood and fat as medicine for everything from headaches to epilepsy. There were few vocal opponents of the practice, even though cannibalism in the newly explored Americas was reviled as a mark of savagery. Mummies were stolen from Egyptian tombs, and skulls were taken from Irish burial sites. Gravediggers robbed and sold body parts.

“The question was not, ‘Should you eat human flesh?’ but, ‘What sort of flesh should you eat?’ ” says Sugg. The answer, at first, was Egyptian mummy, which was crumbled into tinctures to stanch internal bleeding. But other parts of the body soon followed. Skull was one common ingredient, taken in powdered form to cure head ailments. Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, brewed a drink for apoplexy, or bleeding, that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate. And King Charles II of England sipped “The King’s Drops,” his personal tincture, containing human skull in alcohol. Even the toupee of moss that grew over a buried skull, called Usnea, became a prized additive, its powder believed to cure nosebleeds and possibly epilepsy. Human fat was used to treat the outside of the body. German doctors, for instance, prescribed bandages soaked in it for wounds, and rubbing fat into the skin was considered a remedy for gout.

Blood was procured as fresh as possible, while it was still thought to contain the vitality of the body. This requirement made it challenging to acquire. The 16th century German-Swiss physician Paracelsus believed blood was good for drinking, and one of his followers even suggested taking blood from a living body. While that doesn’t seem to have been common practice, the poor, who couldn’t always afford the processed compounds sold in apothecaries, could gain the benefits of cannibal medicine by standing by at executions, paying a small amount for a cup of the still-warm blood of the condemned. “The executioner was considered a big healer in Germanic countries,” says Sugg. “He was a social leper with almost magical powers.” For those who preferred their blood cooked, a 1679 recipe from a Franciscan apothecary describes how to make it into marmalade.

Rub fat on an ache, and it might ease your pain. Push powdered moss up your nose, and your nosebleed will stop. If you can afford the King’s Drops, the float of alcohol probably helps you forget you’re depressed—at least temporarily. In other words, these medicines may have been incidentally helpful—even though they worked by magical thinking, one more clumsy search for answers to the question of how to treat ailments at a time when even the circulation of blood was not yet understood.

However, consuming human remains fit with the leading medical theories of the day. “It emerged from homeopathic ideas,” says Noble. “It’s 'like cures like.' So you eat ground-up skull for pains in the head.” Or drink blood for diseases of the blood.

Another reason human remains were considered potent was because they were thought to contain the spirit of the body from which they were taken. “Spirit” was considered a very real part of physiology, linking the body and the soul. In this context, blood was especially powerful. “They thought the blood carried the soul, and did so in the form of vaporous spirits,” says Sugg. The freshest blood was considered the most robust. Sometimes the blood of young men was preferred, sometimes, that of virginal young women. By ingesting corpse materials, one gains the strength of the person consumed. Noble quotes Leonardo da Vinci on the matter: “We preserve our life with the death of others. In a dead thing insensate life remains which, when it is reunited with the stomachs of the living, regains sensitive and intellectual life.”

Egyptians embalming a corpse. (Bettmann / Corbis)

The idea also wasn’t new to the Renaissance, just newly popular. Romans drank the blood of slain gladiators to absorb the vitality of strong young men. Fifteenth-century philosopher Marsilio Ficino suggested drinking blood from the arm of a young person for similar reasons. Many healers in other cultures, including in ancient Mesopotamia and India, believed in the usefulness of human body parts, Noble writes.

Even at corpse medicine’s peak, two groups were demonized for related behaviors that were considered savage and cannibalistic. One was Catholics, whom Protestants condemned for their belief in transubstantiation, that is, that the bread and wine taken during Holy Communion were, through God’s power, changed into the body and blood of Christ. The other group was Native Americans negative stereotypes about them were justified by the suggestion that these groups practiced cannibalism. “It looks like sheer hypocrisy,” says Beth A. Conklin, a cultural and medical anthropologist at Vanderbilt University who has studied and written about cannibalism in the Americas. People of the time knew that corpse medicine was made from human remains, but through some mental transubstantiation of their own, those consumers refused to see the cannibalistic implications of their own practices.

Conklin finds a distinct difference between European corpse medicine and the New World cannibalism she has studied. “The one thing that we know is that almost all non-Western cannibal practice is deeply social in the sense that the relationship between the eater and the one who is eaten matters,” says Conklin. “In the European process, this was largely erased and made irrelevant. Human beings were reduced to simple biological matter equivalent to any other kind of commodity medicine.”

The hypocrisy was not entirely missed. In Michel de Montaigne’s 16th century essay “On the Cannibals,” for instance, he writes of cannibalism in Brazil as no worse than Europe’s medicinal version, and compares both favorably to the savage massacres of religious wars.

As science strode forward, however, cannibal remedies died out. The practice dwindled in the 18th century, around the time Europeans began regularly using forks for eating and soap for bathing. But Sugg found some late examples of corpse medicine: In 1847, an Englishman was advised to mix the skull of a young woman with treacle (molasses) and feed it to his daughter to cure her epilepsy. (He obtained the compound and administered it, as Sugg writes, but “allegedly without effect.”) A belief that a magical candle made from human fat, called a “thieves candle,” could stupefy and paralyze a person lasted into the 1880s. Mummy was sold as medicine in a German medical catalog at the beginning of the 20th century. And in 1908, a last known attempt was made in Germany to swallow blood at the scaffold.

This is not to say that we have moved on from using one human body to heal another. Blood transfusions, organ transplants and skin grafts are all examples of a modern form of medicine from the body. At their best, these practices are just as rich in poetic possibility as the mummies found in Donne and Shakespeare, as blood and body parts are given freely from one human to another. But Noble points to their darker incarnation, the global black market trade in body parts for transplants. Her book cites news reports on the theft of organs of prisoners executed in China, and, closer to home, of a body-snatching ring in New York City that stole and sold body parts from the dead to medical companies. It’s a disturbing echo of the past. Says Noble, “It’s that idea that once a body is dead you can do what you want with it.”


The Mound Builders: Unusual Burial Sites

Across the United States, there are burial mounds, or at least their remnants, some as extensive in size as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Cahokia and Monk’s mounds in Illinois and Missouri are two thought to have been built before the arrival of Columbus. The Cahokia mound is 100 feet tall with a 14-acre base, almost an entire acre larger than the pyramid at Giza. Monk’s Mound is just as tall with a 1,000-foot-wide base. But what makes these and other mounds of their kind even more intriguing is what has been found buried inside of them.

Jim Vieira has made it his mission to explore the mystery behind these mounds and others where there is documentation of unearthed skeletons, often of gigantic proportions. Vieira, a stonemason by trade , found himself intrigued after finding a plethora of mysterious stone mounds throughout New England.

He found that the construction, and particularly the stonework, of these mounds, was impressive, considering the level of technology at the time. He also noticed that the orientation of the mounds was such that the entrances faced a direction that was in alignment with the sun during the Equinoxes. The mounds were built with massive stones and were present long before colonists from Europe crossed over.

Vieira uncovered old reports in New England of giant skeletons unearthed from these mounds, often with two rows of teeth and jaws that could fit over the head of a normal-sized human. The skeletons ranged in length from 7 to 10 feet tall. While this may sound ridiculous at first glance, it was not an isolated incident and is supported by reports from reputable news sources of the time.


Extra-terrestrial Hypothesis

Due to the unusual shape and features of the Paracas skulls, there has long been speculation that they are extra-terrestrial in origin, and many have hoped that DNA testing would prove that to be the case.

“As regards an “alien” component or ancestry to the skulls, we may never know,” writes Brien Foerster. “The DNA testing programs can only compare sample DNA with those that are known, and those are held in a huge database called Gentech in the US. Further testing with cooperation from Peruvian archaeologists and the Ministry of Culture are now ongoing.”

Nevertheless, LA Marzulli explained that the DNA results fit perfectly with the hypothesis he has held since before any testing was undertaken. That is that the Paracas people are the Nephilim. The Nephilim, according to ancient Biblical texts, are the offspring of the Fallen Angels and the women of earth, resulting in a hybrid entity, and they said to be based in the area of the Levant, the same place that the Paracas DNA traces to.

Whether or not this hypothesis is correct, the results of the DNA tests are dramatic and history changing and further testing may help to unravel the complex history of the Paracas people.


NAZCA's Lost City of the line-builders: Cahuachi

This time around I'd like to introduce those who have not yet heard of the Cahuachi culture to them and their amazing accomplishments. [not to be confused with the Paracas culture] Which I'll be writing another thread on later this month. Please allow me to take you on a virtual tour of this amazing Peruvian site. Be Advised: This site has everything. There we find Pyramids, Temples, Mummies, Elongated and Bulbous Skulls and of course the nearby NAZCA lines themselves.

This article The Lost City of Nasca posted a few years back got me interested in writing this thread to post some updated information on what has been uncovered. Let's begin with what is already known.


Cahuachi, in Peru, was a major ceremonial center of the Nazca culture, based from 1 CE to about 500 CE in the coastal area of the Central Andes. It overlooked some of the Nazca lines. The Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici has been excavating at the site for the past few decades . The site contains over 40 mounds topped with adobe structures. The huge architectural complex covers 0.6 sq. miles (1.5 km2). The American archeologist Helaine Silverman has also conducted long term, multi-stage research and written about the full context of Nazca society at Cahuachi, published in a lengthy study in 1993.

Scholars once thought the site was the capital of the Nazca state but have determined that the permanent population was quite small. They believe that it was a pilgrimage center, whose population increased greatly in relation to major ceremonial events. New research has suggested that 40 of the mounds were natural hills modified to appear as artificial constructions. Support for the pilgrimage theory comes from archaeological evidence of sparse population at Cahuachi, the spatial patterning of the site, and ethnographic evidence from the Virgin of Yauca pilgrimage in the nearby Ica Valley (Silverman 1994).

Looting is the greatest problem facing the site today. Most of the burial sites surrounding Cahuachi were not known until recently and are tempting targets for looters.

So, the site is presently thought to simply have been a ceremonial location. However, The more they dig the larger and more extensive and sophisticated the site appears to have been. Like many sites in Peru, Cahuachi and the surrounding area were used by various peoples down through the centuries. Which may have possibly muddied the waters so to speak as to it's true age, original purpose and to which peoples may have been the original inhabitants.

Archaeologists actually discovered the site a few decades ago.
At the time it really didn't look like much.

Since then the site they have uncovered has been come to be called as the lost city of the line-builders: Cahuachi. The site is on the Peruvian Pampa which lies 75 km inland from the coast of Peru and just south of the Nazca lines.

The site was supposedly started around 2000 years ago and abandoned 500 years later. There we find what we often find in Central and South America, the ancients either building one on top of the other or later cultures utilizing the sites for their own unrelated purposes. This is the repeated pattern in many of these ancient cultures. Often finding what appears to be more sophisticated and advanced designs at the lower much older levels.

What I find strange is that the prevailing theory is the site was destroyed and possibly abandoned because of a combination of Earthquakes which is common to the area and a massive flood. Now, how one has a massive flood in such a dry location at this altitude is beyond me. The area in question is very dry but bizarrely the remnant ruins show what appears to be water erosion. Two things pop into question. 1. When did the last major environment change occur and 2. Just exactly how possibly old is this site? Here are couple of renditions of what the whole site may have looked like at it's height.

I thought I'd post this video which should give an idea of how it once looked. I have a feeling that Peru will eventually prove to be and become much more important as time goes by as more and more locations come to light and are extensively explored and understood.

There is no denial that the site and much of the surrounding area had been used continuously for burying the dead. The environment is perfect for preserving their bodies. I find the site a bit puzzling and I ask has the site always been used as such from the beginning or was it the later follow on cultures which began to use it as such? In other words were these mummies from the original builders and was that the locations original purpose?

Hopefully not too many will be disappointed in this NAZCA related thread with no images of the lines. I figured those have been posted numerous times over the years. I thought a thread on the lesser known aspects and people of the area would be an interesting and refreshing change.


Unique paleopathology in a pre-Columbian mummy remnant from Southern Peru--severe cervical rotation trauma with subluxation of the axis as cause of death

We describe the multidisciplinary findings in a pre-Columbian mummy head from Southern Peru (Cahuachi, Nazca civilisation, radiocarbon dating between 120 and 750 AD) of a mature male individual (40-60 years) with the first two vertebrae attached in pathological position. Accordingly, the atlanto-axial transition (C1/C2) was significantly rotated and dislocated at 38° angle associated with a bulging brownish mass that considerably reduced the spinal canal by circa 60%. Using surface microscopy, endoscopy, high-resolution multi-slice computer tomography, paleohistology and immunohistochemistry, we identified an extensive epidural hematoma of the upper cervical spinal canal-extending into the skull cavity-obviously due to a rupture of the left vertebral artery at its transition between atlas and skull base. There were no signs of fractures of the skull or vertebrae. Histological and immunohistochemical examinations clearly identified dura, brain residues and densely packed corpuscular elements that proved to represent fresh epidural hematoma. Subsequent biochemical analysis provided no evidence for pre-mortal cocaine consumption. Stable isotope analysis, however, revealed significant and repeated changes in the nutrition during his last 9 months, suggesting high mobility. Finally, the significant narrowing of the rotational atlanto-axial dislocation and the epidural hematoma probably caused compression of the spinal cord and the medulla oblongata with subsequent respiratory arrest. In conclusion, we suggest that the man died within a short period of time (probably few minutes) in an upright position with the head rotated rapidly to the right side. In paleopathologic literature, trauma to the upper cervical spine has as yet only very rarely been described, and dislocation of the vertebral bodies has not been presented.


10 facial reconstructions from history you should know about

One of the (few) ways that many of us can relate to the vast scope of history is from the visual angle. Research-based reconstructions certainly bring forth such an advantage with their provision of ‘glimpses’ into the past. And among them, facial reconstructions of actual historical characters rather notch it up a level, with their ability to tantalizingly sate our inherent curiosity about the ‘players’ in the grander scheme of things. So without further ado, let us take a gander at the ten facial reconstructions from history you should know about.

*Note – All of these reconstructions should not be judged as being entirely accurate when it comes to historicity, but rather viewed as an estimation of the visages in line with archaeology and research. To that end, some of the historical personalities are even presented with more than one reconstruction of their individual faces.

1) ‘Ava’ (circa 1800 BC) –

The site of Achavanich (or Achadh a’ Mhanaich in Gaelic) in the northern tip of Scotland boasts its fair share of mysteries with the famed horseshoe-shaped arrangement composed of an array of stones. But researchers had given the ‘human’ touch to this Bronze Age scope of an enigma, by reconstructing the face of the woman whose remains were discovered at the site back in 1987. Given the moniker of ‘Ava’, the young woman was 18-22 years old at the time of their death, while her skeletal remains are dated from around 3,700 years ago.

In regard to the incredible project, the resultant work is the brainchild of forensic artist Hew Morrison, a graduate of the University of Dundee. Aided by the comprehensive research project on Ava managed by archaeologist Maya Hoole, Morrison was able to get a lot of details on the history and anthropology of the Bronze Age human specimen. Other features of her face were gauged from various data parameters, ranging from a chart of modern average tissue depth to an anthropological formula for calculating the depth of the missing lower jaw.

2) The Mycenaean ‘Griffin Warrior’ (circa 1500 BC) –

Heralded by the Greek Ministry of Culture as the “the most important tomb to have been discovered in 65 years in continental Greece”, the 3500-year old Mycenaean ‘Griffin Warrior’ grave found in Pylos (in October 2015) was filled with over 1,400 precious objects. Researchers from the University of Witwatersrand of Johannesburg had made this incredible ancient scope even more ‘romantic’ with their reconstruction of the face of the presumably renowned warrior male, done with the aid of a depiction on an ancient seal discovered inside the tomb.

Artist’s drawing of late Mycenaean warriors, with the soldier on the right wearing the Dendra Panoply.

As for the flurry of precious objects, the 5 ft deep, 4 ft wide and 8 ft long tomb boasted various vessels made from metals like solid gold, silver, and bronze. These were accompanied by gold pendants, necklaces, and the aforementioned rings, along with beads of carnelian, amethyst, jasper, and agate. But oddly enough, the archaeologists had not found any evidence of conventional ceramic vessels – almost as if the use of regular ceramic in the tomb decoration was beneath the Griffin Warrior’s status.

3) Tutankhamun (1341 – 1323 BC) –

Back in 2005, a group of forensic artists and physical anthropologists, headed by famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, created the first known reconstructed bust of the renowned boy king from the ancient times. The 3D CT scans of the actual mummy of the young Pharaoh yielded a whopping 1,700 digital cross-sectional images, and these were then utilized for state-of-the-art forensic techniques usually reserved for high-profile violent crime cases. According to Hawass –

In my opinion, the shape of the face and skull are remarkably similar to a famous image of Tutankhamun as a child, where he is shown as the sun god at dawn rising from a lotus blossom.

Controversially enough, in 2014, King Tut once again went through what can be termed as virtual autopsy, with a bevy of CT scans, genetic analysis, and over 2,000 digital scans. The resulting reconstruction was not favorable to the physical attributes of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, with emerging details like a prominent overbite, slightly malformed hips, and even a club foot.

4) Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 – 30 BC) –

Cleopatra – the very name brings forth reveries of beauty, sensuality, and extravagance, all set amidst the political furor of the ancient world. But does historicity really comply with these popular notions about the famous female Egyptian pharaoh, who had her roots in a Greek dynasty? Well, the answer to that is more complex, especially considering the various parameters of history, including cultural inclinations, political propaganda and downright misinterpretations.

But one thing is for certain – the femme fatale aura of Cleopatra had more to do with her incredible influence on two of the most powerful men during the contemporary era, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius), as opposed to her actual physical beauty. At least that is what the extant evidence of her portraits in coin specimens suggests. Taking all these factors into account, reconstruction specialist/artist M.A. Ludwig has made recreations of the renowned visage of Cleopatra VII Philopator (based on an actual bust thought to be of Cleopatra VII, which is currently displayed at the Altes Museum in Berlin).

5) ‘Meritamun’ (possibly circa 1st century BC) –

Researchers (from multiple faculties) at the University of Melbourne have combined avenues like medical research, forensic science, CT scanning, and Egyptology, to recreate the visage of Meritamun (‘beloved of the god Amun’), an Ancient Egyptian noblewoman who lived at least 2,000 years ago. And the interesting part is – the scientists only had access to Meritamun’s mummified head, which on analysis alludes to how she met her demise at a young age of 18 to 25.

The painstaking process was achieved by CT scanning and then 3D printing an accurate replica of the mummy skull. In fact, the skull had to be printed in two sections for precisely capturing the features of the jaws. The facial reconstruction was then created by leading sculptor Jennifer Mann, with the aid of practical techniques that are often used in actual crime/murder investigations.

6) St. Nicholas – one of the inspirations for Santa Claus (270 – 343 AD) –

Aided by software simulation and 3D interactive technology by Liverpool John Moores University’s Face Lab, the above-pictured 3D model reconstructed in 2016, was the result of her detailed analysis – though it is still subject to various interpretations. According to renowned facial anthropologist, Caroline Wilkinson, the project was based on “all the skeletal and historical material”.

Interestingly enough, back in 2004, researchers had made another reconstruction effort, based on the study St. Nicholas’ skull in details from a series of X-ray photographs and measurements that were originally compiled in 1950. And we can comprehend from this image, St. Nicholas was possibly an olive-toned man past his prime years, but still maintaining an affable glow that is strikingly similar to the much later depicted Santa. His broken nose may have been the effect of the persecution of Christians under Diocletian’s rule during Nicholas’ early life. And interestingly enough, this facial scope is also pretty similar to the depictions of the saint in medieval Eastern Orthodox murals.

7) Lord of Sipán (possibly circa early 4th century AD) –

Often heralded as one of the significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, the Lord of Sipán was the first of the famous Moche mummies found (in 1987) at the site of Huaca Rajada, northern Peru. The almost 2,000-year old mummy was accompanied by a plethora of treasures inside a tomb complex, thereby fueling the importance of the discovery. And researchers have now built upon the historicity of this fascinating figure, by digitally reconstructing how the ‘lord’ might have looked like in real-life.

Of course, this was no easy feat, especially since the skull of the Lord of Sipán was actually broken into 96 fragments during the time of its discovery (due to the pressure of the soil sediments over the millenniums). So as a result, the researchers from the Brazilian Team of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology had to painstakingly arrange together these numerous pieces in a virtual manner. The reassembled skull was then photographed from various angles (with a technique known as photogrammetry) for precise digital mapping of the organic object.

8) Robert the Bruce (1274 – 1329 AD) –

An incredible collaborative effort from the historians from the University of Glasgow and craniofacial experts from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has resulted in what might be the credible reconstruction of Robert the Bruce’s actual face. The consequent image in question (derived from the cast of a human skull held by the Hunterian Museum) presents a male subject in his prime with heavy-set, robust characteristics, complemented aptly by a muscular neck and a rather stocky frame.

In essence, the impressive physique of Robert the Bruce alludes to a protein-rich diet, which would have made him ‘conducive’ to the rigors of brutal medieval fighting and riding. Now historicity does support such a perspective, with Robert the Bruce (Medieval Gaelic: Roibert a Briuis) often being counted among the great warrior-leaders of his generation, who successfully led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England, culminating in the pivotal Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 AD and later invasion of northern England. In fact, Robert was already crowned the King of Scots in 1306 AD, after which he was engaged in a series of guerrilla warfare against the English crown, thus illustrating the need for physical capacity for the throne-contenders in medieval times.

9) Richard III (1452 – 1483 AD) –

The last king of the House of York and also the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, Richard III’s demise at the climactic Battle of Bosworth Field usually marks the end of ‘Middle Ages’ in England. And yet, even after his death, the young English monarch had continued to baffle historians, with his remains eluding scholars and researchers for over five centuries. And it was momentously in 2012 when the University of Leicester identified the skeleton inside a city council car park, which was the site of Greyfriars Priory Church (the final resting place of Richard III that was dissolved in 1538 AD). Coincidentally, the remains of the king were found almost directly underneath a roughly painted ‘R’ on the bitumen, which basically marked a reserved spot inside the car park since the 2000s.

As for the recreation part, it was once again Professor Caroline Wilkinson who was instrumental in completing a forensic facial reconstruction of Richard III based on the 3D mappings of the skull. Interestingly enough, the reconstruction was ‘modified’ a bit in 2015 – with lighter eyes and hair, following a newer DNA-based evidence deduced by the University of Leicester.

10) Maximilien de Robespierre (1758 – 1794 AD) –

Back in 2013, forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier and facial reconstruction specialist Philippe Froesch created what they termed as a realistic 3D facial reconstruction of Maximilien de Robespierre, the infamous ‘poster boy’ of the French Revolution. But as one can gather from the actual outcome of their reconstruction, contemporary portraits of Robespierre were possibly flattering to the leader.

Originally published as one of the letters in the Lancet medical journal, the reconstruction was made with the aid of various sources. Some of them obviously relate to the contemporary portraits and accounts of Robespierre, in spite of their ‘compliant’ visualization of the revolutionary. But one of the primary objects that helped the researchers, pertain to the famous death mask of Robespierre, made by none other than Madame Tussaud. Interestingly enough, Tussaud (possibly) claimed that the death mask was directly made with the help of Robespierre’s decapitated head after he was guillotined on July 28th, 1794.


The Mysterious Red Haired Mummies Of The Coast Of Peru

The southern coastal area of Peru, specifically Paracas and Nazca has evidence that most academics have not looked at, and that is the phenomenon of the existence of pre-Colombian people having red hair.

Counter to common claims, this reddish or even blondish appearance in several mummies and skulls, such as the example above of a Nazca person in the Chauchilla cemetery is not the result of age, sun bleaching, henna or other dye, but shows that some of these people had hair which is genetically different than most Native Americans.

Red hair occurs naturally on approximately 1–2% of the human population. It occurs more frequently (2–6%) in people of northern or western European ancestry, and less frequently in other populations. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein. It is characterized by high levels of the reddish pigment pheomelanin and relatively low levels of the dark pigment eumelanin.

Remarkably, the royal bloodline of the Paracas culture, who preceded the Nazca had red hair in most cases. As the Nazca moved into the Paracas territory about 100 AD, they mated with the latter, and mounting evidence suggests that they eventually exterminated the royal Paracas. This evidence, for example, is indicated by the almost complete absence of elongated skulls/cranial deformation during the Nazca period, and reduced presence of red hair.

The above skull is that of a 2 year old baby which one of the last generations of Paracas, dying about 1950 years ago. Notice the strawberry blonde hair. The question is, where would the red/blonde hair have come from? A probable answer is that the Paracas migrated to the coast of Peru, possibly via Easter Island, but from an unknown land.

The red “hats” of the Moai of Easter Island (Rapa nui) in fact represent the hair tied into a top knot, and many of these large stone figures were made prior to the arrival of Polynesians, who first came there about 100 AD, at the earliest.

Above is how artist Marcia K. Moore perceives the Paracas may have looked. Even archaeologists do not know where the Paracas came from DNA testing, now underway may give the answers.

The above books are available in e-book or paper back form HERE.

Two tours you can join this Fall, 2014 will show you the amazing Paracas and Nazca cultures, as well as Machu Pic’chu and much more:


Watch the video: Non-Human Skulls in Peru By Brien Foerster