Author of the Month

Elongated Skulls Of Paracas: A People And Their World (cont.)
By Brien Foerster

What is intriguing about this, is that we see, from viewing the very large skull collection at the Regional Museum in nearby Ica, that the physical presence of the elongated skulls does dwindle as the time line of the Nazca progresses. This would indicate that either the process of head binding itself died out gradually, and/or that the genetic trait of the elongated cranium faded as fewer and fewer of the Paracas people existed. The Paracas people also seem to have occupied the Nazca area prior to the arrival of the actual Nazca tribal people, and may have been the makers of the famous animal figures on the Nazca plain; the lines themselves having been made later. Amongst the most famous of the figures is one called “The Astronaut,” and it is not only human like in form, but shows signs of having a less than normal shaped head. Whether this was the result of artistic license, or a realistic portrayal is not known.

The only way to establish the actual age, and possible genetic origins of the Paracas people is through DNA analysis of the skulls themselves. Fortunately, Juan Navarro has a somewhat large collection of the elongated skulls in his possession, and just recently put them on display at his museum, due to my urging. Numbering at least 15, and collected as the result of the huaqueros leaving the skulls abandoned on the surface after looting graves, Juan has allowed me to take samples from 5 of the skulls. I was able to procure hair, including roots, a tooth, skull bone samples, and skin, and carefully documented the extractions with the use of high definition video; 10 samples in all.

The samples were sent to Lloyd Pye in the US, famous as the caretaker of the Star Child skull, who has now delivered the samples to his geneticist in Texas. We are hoping to get results of DNA analysis by late August, which we anticipate will give us information about the genetic root stock of the Paracas people.

As I have said, the phenomenon of the elongated skull is not unique to the Paracas area. The Egyptians, at the time of Pharaoh Akhenaton, seem to have exhibited this cranial feature, as did people on the island of Vanuatu in Melanesia, Malta in the Mediterranean, and the Olmec of Mexico, amongst other locations. However, as far as I know, most of these skulls are elongated as the result of artificial binding; whereas a number of the Paracas ones show specific characteristics that would seem to indicate that they were in fact born this way. Of the 5 physical factors, pointed out by Lloyd Pye and myself, which are not at all common to Homo sapiens, are two that I will mention. One is the presence of 2 small holes in the back of the skull, perpendicular to the cranial suture present in the parietal plate of the skull. Every normal human skull is composed of 3 major bone plates; the frontal plate, which ends at the upper part of the forehead, and the 2 parietal plates which lie behind this, intersecting the frontal plate making a “T” shape. The holes are thought by Lloyd to be natural; every human jaw has a small hole on either side which is for nerves and blood vessels to exit and feed the tissue there; these 2 holes at the back of the skull may perform the same function for the elongated skull.

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