Artificial cranial deformation in the Proto-neolithic and Neolithic Near East and its possible origin : Evidence from four sites.Solecki Rose, Akkermans Peter M. M. G., Agelarakis Anagnostis, Meiklejohn Christopher, Smith Philip E.L. Artificial cranial deformation in the Proto-neolithic and Neolithic Near East and its possible origin : Evidence from four sites. In: Paléorient. 1992, Vol. 18 N°2. pp. 83-97
The discussion of artificial cranial deformation of Near Eastern Neolithic material begun by Lambert's description of six crania from the Iranian site of Ganj Dareh is developed in this paper. Lambert regarded these specimens as being the earliest reported cases of the phenomenon in the region. This paper reports on a restudy of the Ganj Dareh material, together with findings
obtained from three further sites, Shanidar Cave in Iraq, Tepe Ghenil in Iran, and Bouqras in Syria. We show the presence of a series of features that indicate the widespread use of an as yet undetermined form of head-gear that produced alteration in cranial form. However, in contrast to later examples of deformation there are no obvious sex or social correlates of the phenomenon. The findings are discussed within the framework of other literature on cranial form and patterns of skull treatment within the Neolithic of the Middle East.
Artificial cranial deformation of the human skull occurs throughout the Old and New Worlds, and carries important cultural significance. It has ap peared independently a number of times. The li terature on the phenomenon lies within the historic framework of a field long fascinated by information provided by the human skull. Dating from the work of Morton (1), it is centred on the classification of the phenomenon. Early work, based on shapes, was later extended to the technical manner of deformat ion (2). More recent attention concerns the effect of deformation on skull growth and form (3). This paper deals with geographical distribution and possible origin in the Near East.
Finally, we note that, due to the presence of deformation, any analysis of group affinity that relies on the cranial form of these samples must remain tenative
The distribution of cranial deformation
Cranial deformation has been reported in both the Old and New World. New World studies have reported on distribution and types, with particular attention to the Northwest Coast and the Andes. In the Old World, deformation has been reported from all continents.
Cranial deformation in Europe and western Asia
has been surveyed by Kiszeley (4), who found the earliest reported finds to be from Southwest Asia. Dated material of the 7th through 4th millennia BC were reported from, in chronological order, Jericho [Palestine; occupied West Bank], Khirokitia [Cy prus], Byblos [Lebanon], Seyh Hoyiik [Syria], and Eridu [Iraq] (5). The occurrence at Jericho was con firmed by Kurth and Rôhrer-Ertl (6), and a similar distribution noted by Arensburg and Hershkovitz (7). Lambert (8) reported on deformation in the Ganj Dareh series and noted its presence in two further Iranian sites : AH Kosh (7th millennium) (9), and Seh Gabi (Chalcolithic)(10). This list indicates a broad temporal and geographic span within the Near East. However, distribution prior to ca 5000 BC [equivalent to Samarra and Halaf in Mesopotamia] is limited and episodic. Most later sites with defor mation show signs of urbanization, and are consider ably larger than those under discussion here. Some of these sites (e.g. Khirokitia) are large for their age. Only at Ali Kosh do the remains fit the age and smaller site size seen in three of the four sites under discussion here. Bouqras, the largest of these sites, appears to be slightly larger than the prepottery settlement at Jericho. Despite the incompleteness of Lambert's survey, his comments on tem poral distribution are largely correct. It should also be noted that figurines with ap parently deformed crania have been reported from the Levant and Mesopotamia, including Byblos, Ramad [PPNB], and Yarim Tepe, as well as at Bouqras. This is a source of further information that has not been systematically studied.
CULTURAL CONTEXT OF DEFORMATION
Lambert (11), noting the correlation between cranial deformation and the appearance of social classes, provided a basis for distribution of the fea ture in stratified communities. Complex non-urban examples [e.g. the Northwest coast (12)] show evi dence of stratification atypical for the economic level. Wherever found, deformation is more common in sites younger than those reported here and/or those that are more stratified. The results reported here were therefore unexpected. To our knowledge, the only reported cases clearly older than those di scussed here are from Kow Swamp, Australia (13), the Shanidar Cave 1 and 5 Neandertals (14), and the Arène Candide 19 cranium from Italy (15). However, each of these examples has been queried. In this context we report on apparent deformat ion in four Near Eastern communities prior to 5500 BC, three of them quite small. They suggest conti nuity with the previously noted Ali Kosh example. We conclude that artificial cranial deformation oc-curs in this early period in a belt running from the Iran/Iraq border area, east of the Mesopotamian core, to the upper and middle reaches of the Euphrates River in Syria, and, with the occurrence at Jericho, to the core of the Levant (fig. 1).
THE PRIMARY SITES
We report material from four Proto-Neolithic and Neolithic sites, Shanidar cave, Iraq, dated ca 9000 to 8500 BC, Ganj Dareh Tepe, Iran, ca 7500 to 6500 BC, Tepe Ghenil, Iran, late 8th to early 6th millennium BC, and Bouqras, Syria, ca 6500 to 5500 BC. The discussion below is primarily con cerned with the context of the skeletal remains.
This large limestone cave lies about 400 km north of Baghdad in the outer folds of the Iraqi Zagros Mountains. It is at an elevation of 747 m, and lies about 2.5 km from the Greater Zab River, a major tributary of the Tigris River (16). Four sea sons of excavations by R.S., between 1951 and 1960, yielded 14m of cultural deposits overlying bedrock. The sequence includes four major layers, A through D. Layer ? was subsequently divided into two parts, Bl and B2. Culturally, layer A was Recent and Neolithic, layer Bl was Proto-Neolithic, layer B2 Epipalaeolithic (Zarzian), layer ? Upper Palaeolithic (Baradostian), and layer D Mousterian.
The Proto-Neolithic deposits, with a 14C date of 8650 BC, and up to 1 m in thickness, have an anal ogue at the site of Zawi Chemi Shanidar, excavated by Rose L.Solecki (17). This site, 14C dated to 8910 ??, is situated about 4 km downstream on the same bank of the Greater Zab River. The bulk of cultural materials from the sites is identical in type. Different are the presence of what appeared to be houses and probable bird ritual remains at Zawi Chemi Shanidar, and the cemetery at the Shanidar Cave. The context of both resembles the Natufian culture of the Levant, of roughly similar age. The Shanidar Cave cemetery in Layer Bl occu pied an ovate area roughly 24 m2. The skeletal remains lay at a uniform depth of about 1 m from present ground surface, about 50 cm below the con tact line between the Neolithic A and Proto-Neolithic Bl horizons. There were 26 burials containing 29 individuals. A further individual was found outside the cemetery area, and is not included in the count. This constitutes the only Proto-Neolithic burial site in Southwest Asia outside the Levant.
Ganj Dareh (meaning "Treasure Valley" in Per sian) is a small tepe or mound in the central Zagros Mountains of western Iran, located near the present ethnic boundary between Kurdistan and Luristan in Bakhtan (formerly Kermanshah) province. It lies in a small side valley at ca 1400 m, surrounded on several sides by higher mountain peaks. After an initial sounding in 1965 by P.E.L.S., it was exca vated over four field seasons between 1967 and 1974. Because of its small size (roughly 40 m in diameter and with deposits between 7 and 8 m deep) slightly over one-fifth of the volume of the site was excavated. The deposits are divided into two phases with five main levels. The earliest phase, Level E, rests on virgin soil and is without traces of solid architecture. The second phase, Levels D to A, is characterized by fairly complex brick- and mud- walled structures and small amounts of simple, sof tware pottery. Level D, partially destroyed by fire, is unusually well preserved, with some complex and elaborate architectural forms. Despite some incon sistencies in the 24 14C determinations, a plausible estimate of the chronology of the site dates Level E to ca 7500 BC or somewhat older, with Levels D to A running from ca 7300 BC to the mid 7th mil lennium. Faunal and floral evidence was analyzed by B. Hesse (18) and W. van Zeist et al. (19). Some domestic barley (H. distichun) was present, with the wild variant from the earliest level onward (but no wheat of any kind), and morphologically wild goats (C. aegagrus) were being systematically controlled and culled from Level D onward. Nonetheless the bulk of the food consumed was probably obtained from non-domestic plants and animals. The site therefore documents an early stage in the develop ment of food production in the Zagros area, possibly not much further developed than at Shanidar (20). While burials were found in all levels, the majority are associated with C through E.
Tepe Ghenil ("Round Mound") is a considerably larger but less prominent mound site about 7.5 km from Ganj Dareh, in much the same context but near the Gamas-Ab river bank. It was discovered and briefly tested in 1977 (21). Soundings revealed sev eral meters of archaeological deposits, with 3 or perhaps 4 occupation levels showing mud-walled architecture. The earlier of these levels appear to be more or less contemporaneous with Levels D to A at Ganj Dareh, but we have no C14 determinations. In the upper zone and on the surface were sherds and other remains indicating a Sarab-type occupat ion, at least some centuries later than the last Neol ithic occupation of Ganj Dareh. The soundings, in not reaching virgin soil, do not indicate if there is a phase at Tepe Ghenil corresponding to level E at Ganj Dareh. Faunal remains suggest a subsistence pattern comparable, in part, to the second phase of Ganj Dareh (22).
Bouqras, the largest site under discussion, is situated in eastern Syria. It lies ca 35 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, on the bank of the Euphrates valley, opposite the mouth of the Khabur. The tell is located on a small remnant of a Late Pleistocene river ter race ; directly to the south a large wadi runs into the floodplain. The present tell measures ca 2.75 ha, with its apex about 11.5 m above the valley floor. The site was excavated during 3 field seasons from 1976 to 1978 (23). In the ca 4.5 m high deposit near the centre of the tell, ten architectural levels were distinguished. At the southern slope of the site somewhat younger occupation phases were present. 14C dates range from ca 6400 BC (level 10) to ca 5500 BC (southwest periphery). The investigated area, about 0.28 ha., revealed series of closely spaced mudbrick houses, each con taining several squarish and oblong rooms. There was remarkable consistency in the internal topo graphy of the dwellings through time. The 'basic unit', a courtyard area, usually contained an oven and a hearth, with, on one side, a 'broad-room' supplied with a typical doorway, and on another a few small square rooms. All of the human skeletal materials came from House 12, a burnt structure near the surface in the southwest quarter of the site. A C14 sample from this house gave a date of 5995 BC.
W. van Zeist and colleagues identified emmer, einkorn, hard wheat, hulled and naked barley, lentils and peas (24). Rain-fed agriculture was practised in the river valley and on the wadi bottoms in the vicinity of the settlement. The animal remains, ana lyzed by A.T. Clason (25), included domestic sheep, goat, cattle, pig and dog. Bouqras is an offshoot of the iate PPNB' comp lex in the northern Levant (generally assumed to have ended ca 6000 BC), and particularly its Middle Euphrates faciès (cf. chipped stone). The bulk of the material culture however (architecture, pottery, stone ware), especially in the younger strata, shows strong similarities to the remains from the earliest agricul tural ('Proto-Hassuna') villages in the Jezirah of northern Iraq.
THE SKELETAL REMAINS
clude two of the largest skeletal collections of their age from the Near East. Only in the southern Levant do equivalent sized samples predate 6000 ?? (the newly announced sample from Çayônii Tepesi, Tur key, appears to be a highly significant addition (26)). The descriptions below summarize the nature of the samples.
It was not possible to make a complete study of the remains, uncovered late in the 1960 season, at the time of excavation, though the original records of R.S. showed the skeletal collection to consist of 26 burials representing 29 individuals. The cases were opened a couple of years later in Baghdad by T.D. Stewart, of the Smithsonian Institution, and his colleague, Juan Munizaga of Chile. Munizaga made a provisional assay of the remains (27). This report indicated that he had resorted several of the bones, labelling and repacking the skeletal material in new boxes provided by the Museum of Baghdad, which he assigned with sequential numbers. He reported the presence of 37 individuals within the collection. An independent study was made by Denise Ferem- bach (28), referring to the cultural layer as the Zawi Chemi Shanidar horizon, an apt descriptive. She selectively focussed on individuals which were largely complete, reporting only 22 individuals.
Finally, the study conducted by A. A. in Baghdad in 1985 (29) documented the presence of 29 individuals, the same number as originally reported. We are uncertain whether other investigations of the burials were made in the years prior to the study by A. A. (30). However, there has been disturbance of the cases containing the skeletal remains. A full report of the cultural associations of the cemetery is in preparation for publication by R.S.
The Shanidar Cave collection consists of indi viduals of both sexes and a wide range of age groups. As at Ganj Dareh (see below) the sample appears to be largely random. The importance of this collection lies in the high integrity of the burials within the site stratigraphy, combined with the lack of synchronous skeletal samples unearthed in this region (Shanidar level Bl probably predates Ganj Dareh by at least a millennium).
Although the majority of individuals were rep resented by both axial and appendicular remains, all individuals were incomplete and often fragmentary. The skeletal collection has been studied for patho logy and morphology conditions, as well as bone stable isotopic ratio analyses for investigation of dietary patterns (31).
This sample is the largest of those under discus sion. Of 69 individuals defined in ongoing analysis, 52 were identified during excavation. The other 17 were isolated from faunal samples by Brian Hesse. Of burial features identified in the field, 8 have more than one individual in a single feature. Discrepancies with figures presented previously (32) result from identification of new multiple units and the addition of units from the faunal samples. These figures re place those published previously. The sample covers all age and sex classes from fetal to adult, without apparent bias towards any particular sex or age class. The sample is, however, quite fragmentary, a factor in the numb er of adult burials for which no sex diagnosis is yet possible, and for which age is hard to assess. Previous studies of the skeletal collection have been made by Lambert (33), Schoeninger (34), Car- michael (35) (who also looked at Tepe Ghenil and Bouqras), and by A. A. (36). The sample is currently under study by CM.
This, the smallest of the four samples, consists of an infant and a subadult. The sample is unpubl ished and is under study by CM. The material is of prime interest for its geographical and chronol ogical relationship to Ganj Dareh.
The Bouqras sample consists of seven individ uals, although only six were studied (the seventh consists of fire damaged cranial fragments). One individual, a Roman or Byzantine intrusion, is not included in this study. The remaining five individ uals range from child to adult (Table 3), with no male individuals identified. A preliminary descrip tion of the collection has been published (37).
ANALYSIS OF THE DEFORMATION
Lambert (38) described six crania from Ganj Dareh that he believed were deformed by the annular method (39), with deformation produced by use of bandages or a hood ("bonnet"). He saw this as equi valent to the form described by Ôzbek at By- blos (40). Lambert defined the presence of deformation at Ganj Dareh from three morphological changes to the crania : 1) Post-coronal Depression [PCD], defined as "a depression located slightly posterior to the coronal suture on both parietals" (41).
2) Parietal Bulge [PB], defined as "an elevated area of bone parallel and posterior to the post-coronal depression" (42).
3) Lambdoid Flattening [LF], defined as "a flattened area immediately above lambda" (43).
Lambert, apparently in error, tied these features to Uzbek's deformation type 'b' (44)
However, Lambert's figure 1 indicates a bandagi ng of the more vertical of the two shown in Uzbek's type 'a' (45), involving a bandage running over the point bregma and under the mandible, explaining the post-coronal depression and parietal bulge. We call this Type A (fig. 2). Though not pictured or di scussed by Lambert, the clearest explanation of lamb doid flattening is a modified version of the second bandage of Uzbek's type 'a', our Type D (fig. 2). It is diagonally placed and runs from the frontal, along the sides of the cranium, and behind the occipital. Placement of the lambdoid flattening, and the ab sence of a noticeable effect on the anterior of the frontal, suggest a bandage lower at the front and higher at the back than is shown by Ózbek [i.e. Lambert's horizontal bandage and our Type C| (see further below).
This study extends Lambert's paper. It was orig inally concerned only with Ganj Dareh, expanding the descriptions and placing the deformation into a broader demographic context, based on the knowledge that, in some series, deformation is restricted to certain categories of individuals. At Byblos, for example, it is restricted to females (46).
In this light, a reexamination of the Ganj Dareh sample was planned (by CM.) for the summer of 1988, when A. A. was in Winnipeg. The restudy was done by the two of us. We discovered that at least one of the three features defined by Lambert was present on all of the Ganj Dareh specimens for which diagnosis was possible. The same was also true for three of the four analyzable crania from Bouqras and the only intact cranium from Tepe Ghenil. The deformation noted at Ganj Dareh was obviously much more widespread. A. A. also noted that the same features could be observed in some, though not all, of the materials from Shanidar (based on the limiting factor of preservation).
We then examined the crania from Ganj Dareh, Bouqras and Tepe Ghenil to determine whether fur ther features might be correlated with those noted by Lambert. We found two further traits clearly associated in most, though not all, of the crania, and one other which may be functionally related. The two associated traits involve horizontal grooving or creasing of the cranial vault. Parieto- Temporal grooving |HPTG] is a depression, centred over the parieto-temporal (squamosal) suture, most noticeable in posterior view. It is consistent with the second, horizontal, bandage discussed as responsible for lambdoid flattening. The other feature, occipital Grooving [HOG] is a depression or concavity run ning across the posterior of the occipital at right angles to the sagittal plane. It is consistent with either of the diagonal bandages of Ózbek (our Types C and D).
A third possible correlate is porotic hyperostosis. We noted porosis in almost all of the deformed crania. We suggest that bandaging may predispose the skull vault to porosis. However, since all of the preserved crania at Ganj Dareh appear to be de formed, presence of porosis may not be causally related. In this regard, the Ganj Dareh series shows widespread evidence of anaemia related to malarial infection and/or malnutrition (47).
Results of the new study are presented in Table 4. For Ganj Dareh, PCD and PB are present in all of the crania with the area visible. This suggests the presence of bandaging covering the fronto-parietal articulation, and is consistent with Types A or D, but it is unlikely to occur from Type C due to the broad expanse of the bandage over the fronto-pariet al region. LF is not so universally present, being absent in GD28, GD34 and GD41. In two of these three cases HOG is present (area absent in GD28). We therefore suggest that LF and HOG result from different patterns of bandaging (Type A versus Types C and D). We also note the presence of HOG on all but one of the Ganj Dareh crania with the area preserved, suggesting that the diagonal bandage run ning under the occipital was present in most though not all of this series. When both areas were visible, either LF and/or HOG were always present, suggest ing the presence of either bandage Type C or D. Type C cannot be excluded but is far harder to demonstrate, differing from the diagonal bandage of type D primarily in the breadth of the bandage.
Horizontal parieto-temporal grooving (HPTG) is present in six of nine Ganj Dareh specimens. Since this feature is not seen in all cases with LF, there is some evidence that it is not universal in cases with evidence for Type C bandaging. Its absence is therefore hard to interpret. It does not occur when evidence for deformation is otherwise absent (seen by the presence of LF and/or HOG) (examples from the Ganj Dareh collection are seen in Plates 1 to 3). The Bouqras data are less consistent. Artificial deformation was not suspected during the original study (48), and we suggest that the bandaging was less tightly deployed. All individuals show at least one of the features, but Bl and B2 are ambiguous. Though Bl lacks both PCD and PB, it shows HPTG, and can be interpreted as having one of bandage types ?, ? or D. B2 shows the same feature, though no other areas were visible. Thus, we suggest that all of the individuals were deformed. However, some may only have had a horizontal bandage, a pattern not seen at Ganj Dareh.
The single specimen from Tepe Ghenil is frag mentary. Only LF was present. There is no evidence for the Types ?, C or D seen at Ganj Dareh. Thus, the evidence from Tepe Ghenil is not fully consistent with that from Ganj Dareh. However, it is consistent with some form of bandaging, equivalent to Bl and B2 at Bouqras, though without manifestation of HPTG.
Shanidar Cave is the hardest to analyze since the observations were made in Baghdad prior to analysis of the other three series. As seen in Table 4, it can only be stated at present that two individ uals show deformation, but we cannot exclude other individuals in the series. Shanidar SA295-A (49) shows Type D bandaging, though with the occipital binding higher than pictured by Ózbek. As noted in the table, Shanidar SA337-A has pronounced bregmatic alteration. Traces of further deformation seem to be present in the occipital fragments, but details of features cannot be determined.
The above results, shown in figure 2, can be summarized in terms of bandage types, as follows :
1) Type A, vertical, as seen in Lambert, and in Ôzbek type 'a', is associated with PCD and/or PB.
2) Type B, the single bandage of Ôzbek type 'b', is associated with HOG. It suggests a less obvious relationship with the variable expression of PCD and/or PB.
3) Type C, horizontal, implied by Lambert, is associated with LF and HPTG.
Type D, Diagonal, seen in Ozbec Type 'a', is associated with HOG and HPTG. We have not observed alteration of the frontal, as implied by Uzbek's figure. Interpretation of the data in terms of these bandage types is presented in Table 5.
Examination of these data do not provide ev idence for differential pattern by sex and/or age. Similar findings are found in male and female indi viduals and in adults and subadults. Thus, no prima facie evidence exists for distribution of deformation by socially defined boundaries.
The varying deforming bandages are not equally distributed. Type C is the most common, present in fifteen of eighteen specimens for which a diagnosis is possible, and in all four sites. This form is closest in pattern to a modern head-band. Type A is present in three of five specimens for which a diagnosis is possible, and in three of the four sites (It should be noted that the frequencies of these two types are not significantly different [p = 0.5, Fisher Exact test]). Though there are no unambiguous examples of either type C or type D, two specimens from Ganj Dareh must have one of these patterns present (six spec imens representing three of the four sites have neither). As well, at least ten individuals must have either bandage type A or type B. It therefore does not seem that any of the four forms can be excluded.
If the general categories are examined, the vertical (A) is seen in three of five individuals, one of the two diagonal patterns (B and D) in two of eight, while fifteen of eighteen show the horizontal pattern (C).
The presence of two bandages in use is verified in eight specimens. It is suspected in a further three. In one case (Bl) the presence of two bandages can be excluded, and this may be true in a second case (TG7-2) (in both cases there is a possibility that no bandage is present). Finally, we realize that it may be possible that the appearance of two bandage types may involve use of a single complex bandage, presumably with a right angle knot at one of the juncture spots. We can find several ways that this could be done but cannot see how to distinguish this from a pair of bandages in the actual specimens. Though modern analogues may be found we caution that direct extrapolation is conjectural in the absence of direct data.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
We have presented evidence for artificial cranial deformation in four Near Eastern skeletal series da ting between 9000 and 6000 BC. For Ganj Dareh (Iran), all crania can be demonstrated to show de- formation (except GD 28 which is very incomplete). At nearby Tepe Ghenil (Iran) the single cranium is most likely deformed (though see the caution above). At Bouqras (Syria) all crania appear to be deformed (though Bl is subject to question). Finally, at Shani- dar cave (Iraq), two of the more complete specimens are deformed. In the last case we stress that full analysis of the features reported here was not possible. Where it can be determined, two bandages are usually present, one vertical and one horizontal or diagonal in orientation.
The distribution of the deformation within the sites does not suggest either an age/sex bias or a relationship to cultural stratification. With full knowledge of the limitations of the samples studied, we find the ubiquitous nature of the deformation to be highly suggestive that the phenomenon was so ciety wide. The deformation does not appear to be similar in cultural significance to patterns seen in later and/or more hierarchically structured societies. We therefore suggest that we are looking at the origin of deformation in this part of the world, unrelated to clear social differentiation. We note the significant absence of a literature discussing the origins of this phenomenon.
We stress that the markers for deformation were not always obvious in the crania during study. The presence of deformation was not suspected during the original study of the Bouqras series (50), but became apparent only during a restudy of the Ganj Dareh series. It is also clear that there are cases where the defined diagnostics are not all present. As an example, three individuals with type ? deformat ion, defined by LF, lack HPTG. As a result, it is not clear that deformation at this level would have been obvious to people with the trait and/or to those observing them (though see below). We therefore suggest that the deformation was a correlate of a form of routine clothing or head-gear, found from childhood onwards. Only later would the deformat ion have become obvious and sought after, leading to patterning along demographic and/or social lines (none of the samples studied here shows archaeo logical evidence for significant internal stratifica tion). In this way, we see the deformation as an inadvertent consequence of routine clothing or adornment.
We also note the possibility, stemming from work by Arensburg and Hershkovitz (51), of linkage between cranial deformation and patterns of pos tmortem skull treatment noted in many Neolithic Le vantine sites. This involves the plastering of isolated skulls with a life-like mask (52). They note the ap parent selection of skulls for plastering based upon skull form, and, at Jericho, the plastering of de formed skulls (53). A relationship is therefore seen between the ritual use of skulls and their shape. In this light we note that, at Bouqras, specimens Bl and B5 were isolated crania found in two corners of the same room (54). Though these specimens are not plastered, their provenience suggests continuity with the pattern of skull treatment in the Levant. Extension of this to the Zagros sites is more con tentious. Bouqras is at the northern and eastern limit of postmortem skull 'treatment' as currently defined. None of the Zagros materials are isolated skulls.
The selection of skulls for treatment seen in the Levant and the apparent lack of such selection seen in the three Zagros series under discussion is some what contradictory. We do not yet have sufficient evidence to sort out this conundrum. We have evi dence that deformation is a trait in these societies that occurs across all groups. On the other hand, we also have evidence in the Levant for an apparent relationship between deformation and the selection of skulls for ritual treatment post mortem. It should be noted that Arensburg and Hershkovitz (55) make a clearer case for the selection of normal skulls of a type not frequently found in the population, rather than the deliberate selection of skulls that are already deformed. Thus it might be argued that the selection of deformed skulls was purely fortuitous. We do not see this case as similar to one recently reported from the Northwest Coast of Canada. In this case it has been suggested that intentional head shaping (=alteration) may follow the appearance of pathological deformation in some individuals (e.g. Muscular Torticollis) (56). In this case the pathology was high in frequency and would have been noted in the general population. We have no equivalent pathological base in our samples.
Finally, we stress caution in the use of the features described above as isolated markers of deformation. Of the features noted by Lambert, Post-Coronal Depression and Parietal Bulging are hard to explain other than by deformation. Lambdoid Flattening is, however, attributable to a number of causes. The forms of Horizontal Grooving described here seem, as with Post-Coronal Depression and Parietal Bulging, to be strongly associated with de formation. Finally, as noted above, Porotic Hyper- ostosis may be exacerbated by the deformation process, but is clearly not a marker for deformation. For these reasons we see diagnosis of deformation at this level as dependent on the presence of un questionably deformed specimens, as at Ganj Dareh and Shanidar, and on the presence of the suite of associated features noted here.
In conclusion, we have reported artificial defor mation of crania in four sites from the Near East spanning nearly four thousand years, from 10000 to 6000 BC, and found from the Zagros to the northern Levant. We believe that the pattern of deformation is probably incidental to patterns of head-gear, not necessarily intended to alter the shape of the head. We believe that we are looking at the early stages of a practice (or practices) that becomes more culturally complex at later dates. In the Levant it ap pears to be related to the pattern of skull treatment seen in the region. However, the distribution of deformation and skull treatment are clearly non-con tiguous and there may be different regional vari ations on a theme. Skull form and shape is obviously of importance in the Near East, as also seen in the presence of figurines with deformed skulls. We refrain from suggesting long term continuity, given the probable deformation of some of the Neandertal crania from the lower levels at Shanidar cave. We also feel it to be unwise to suggest continuity with the continuing presence of head binding in the Kurdish population of the Shanidar region, as personally observed by one of us (R.S.). This is clearly a culturally defined behaviour that has arisen independently at different times in a number of regions (and maybe within regions). It is obvious that it is not only anthropologists who have been interested in the shapes of heads.
AcknowledgementsThe primary analyses reported here were performed by CM. and A. A. at the University of Winnipeg (for Ganj Dareh, Bouqras and Tepe Ghenil) and A. A. at the museum of Antiquities, Baghdad (for Shanidar Cave). Support for these analyses was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to CM. (Grants 410-87-1045, 410-89-0376 and 410-91-0594), and Columbia University Grants and a Robert Stigler, Jr. Award for Archaeological Research, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University to A. A. With reference to the completion of this paper for publication at the University of Winnipeg, we would like to thank Ms. Catherine Flynn for work on the map and figures, Ms. Nancy Lehr for assistance with table formatting, Mr. Peter Tittenberger for assistance with the plates, and Mr. Jeffrey M. Wyman for general assistance, and who provided a very sharply focussed eye during the final editing of the manuscript.
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 2E9
Dept. of Anthropology, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, U.S.A. 11530
Peter A. AKKERMANS
Leiden, The Netherlands
Philip E.L. SMITH
Département d'Anthropologie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7
Dept. of Anthropology, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, U.S.A. 77843
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-This paper is entered here as indicating the antiquity of the practice and documenting that it began as identifiable in the Near East along with the beginning of the Neolithic economy. I do not support the ideas about the reasons for the deformation of the skulls and actually I count it as a cultural trait diffusing out of North Africa and the Sahara (and to Atlantis and the Americas out the outher side) However knowing that it can be securely dated in the Near East to between 10000 and 5000 BC is a good thing to know. The Neanderthal skulls in question are not verifiably artificially deformed and if the Australian skulls are actually verified as being artificially deformed, then it would indicate an independant and very old cultural diffusion to and through Sundaland in the late Pleistocene.
Best Wishes, Dale D.
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