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The discovery of mysterious, 1,500-year-old egg-shaped skulls in Bavarian graves has stumped scientists for more than half a century, but now some genetic sleuthing has helped them crack the case: The pointy skulls likely belonged to immigrant brides who traveled to Bavaria from afar to get married, a new study explains.
The finding indicates that these long-headed brides, who lived in the sixth century A.D., likely traveled great distances from southeastern Europe — an area encompassing the region around modern-day Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia — to what is now the southern part of modern Germany.
Women - Skulls - Europe - Change - Roman
When the women with the alien-like skulls were alive, Europe was undergoing profound cultural change. The Roman Empire dissolved as the "barbarians" — the Germanic peoples that include the Goths, Alemanni, Gepids and Longobards — moved in and took over the region,the researchers wrote in the study. The foreign brides were buried in the cemeteries of one of these groups — the Baiuvarii — who lived in what is now modern-day Bavaria.
The discovery of the remains of these women perplexed archaeologists for decades. It's only possible to create pointy skulls, scientifically known as artificial cranial deformation (ACD), in early childhood, when the skull is soft and malleable. But archaeologists couldn't find any children with egg-shaped skulls in the cemetery. Moreover, the women were buried with local grave artifacts, rather than foreign ones, suggesting they had adapted to local culture.
Skulls - Ideal - Beauty - Cultures - Sign
Egg-shaped skulls are perceived as the ideal of beauty in some cultures, and may be a sign of status or nobility, the researchers noted.
These observations prompted scientists to wonder whether the women had migrated from elsewhere, perhaps from Eastern Europe, where cranial deformation was practiced as early as the second century A.D. in Romania; from Asia, the home of the nomadic Huns, a culture that also carried out cranial...
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