Science News

Three deformed skulls from 1500 years ago found in Croatia

New and more in-depth analyses of three deformed human skulls, whose discovery had been made in a sepulchral trench at an archaeological site in Croatia in 2013, were carried out by a group of scholars.

The finding had occurred at Hermanov’s site; the researchers had found deformed skulls, most likely the result of a tribal or social practice as found for other similar findings, in other parts of the world. These findings testify that different populations of the past used to modify the skulls of certain people, for example by using narrow headgear or more rigid wooden instruments worn for a long time, for various reasons, for example to show their status to other members of the group.

Returning to the skulls found in Croatia, the new analyzes showed that these were boys who died when they were between 12 and 16 years, probably due to an illness, perhaps the plague, as Mario Novak, a bioarchaeologist of the Institute of Anthropological Research points out.

No objects were found near the burial site, but DNA analysis showed that these three boys lived between 415 and 560 d. C., a period that according to Novak himself defines as “very turbulent” following the strong migration of different populations also facilitated by the dissolution of the Roman Empire.

The same DNA analysis also showed that these boys were of Eastern origin. The skulls have a particularly pronounced height while the frontal bone of the forehead is flattened.

One of the boys, showing a lineage from Western Eurasia, shows instead an “oblique” deformation with the skull that seems to stretch diagonally towards the other.