The Unexplained: Mystery of the Peruvian skulls

The elongated skulls of Peru have long been the puzzling artifacts of another time, another culture. Photo: The Independent

Original DNA tests were inconclusive and unsettling.  The information could not be narrowed down to human at all.  Were they aliens?

The amazing discovery:  in 1928, Julio Tello, an esteemed archaeologist, discovered a substantial grave in a southern coastal area of Peru.  The over 300 souls buried in this massive tomb lived 3,000 years ago.

Given the nickname, Coneheads, the people’s skulls are elongated to a bizarre degree.

Peru is not the only place to have skeletal remains with elongated skulls.  These ancient people can be found all over the world.  Their elongated skulls are mostly the result of head-binding.  The heads are bound with cloth between two hard boards.

The binding begins in infancy and continues for years.  Sometimes it is cultural—sometimes a religious practice.  Diets indicate these people were of higher birth.  They belonged to an elite group.  Sometimes the anomaly denoted a certain tribe.

Sara Marie Hogg

Usually, this head binding tradition only changes the shape of the skull.  In the world of elongated skulls, the Peruvian skulls are very different.  The internal volume of the skulls is 25% larger and 60% heavier than normal human skulls.

The skulls also contain one parietal plate instead of the regular two and the eye sockets of the skulls are considerably larger.

I checked to see if any anthropologist has used tissue depth markers to do a reconstruction.  I was amazed to find several, both men and women.  The enlarged cranial eye sockets did not make the eyes of the reconstructed faces look much different in the eye area.

Marcia K. Moore is one person who has excelled in making some beautiful reconstructions of these people.  They almost come to life.

The Paracas culture—the culture of the skulls—was, and the Andean society that lived between 800-100 B. C.   They were advanced in many ways, having developed sophisticated irrigation systems and water management techniques.  They were also some of the most skilled textile craftsmen in the new world.  They perfected intricate embroidery techniques.  Their ceramics and basketry were also high art forms.

One man had over thirty-five of the enlarged skulls in a museum. Juan Navarro, the curator, allowed samples to be taken from five of his skulls for DNA testing.  The samples taken were teeth, hair, bones, and some vestiges of skin.  The samples were sent to a DNA lab in Texas.

Original tests, when DNA science was more primitive were inconclusive and unsettling.  The information could not be narrowed down to human at all.  Were they aliens?  These vague results caused the release of some skewed information to interested news outlets.

To make matters more mysterious, the Paracas Skulls are in an area not very far from the Nazca Lines.  Paracas and Ica are a little over 90 miles from Nazca.  They are basically the same people. Intriguing mysteries about the reason for the construction of the Nazca lines thrill to this day.

Were they artworks?

Cosmic signals?

Calendar pieces?

For many years many thought it was possible that the people who constructed these giant glyphs must have had guidance from outer space.  The only way to see them is from high overhead.  How did these primitive people make such accurate large drawings?

When you have the Nazca Lines and the Paracas Skulls in an area of such close proximity, there can be much speculation about alien connections.

In 2014, pseudo-scientists posted information that the DNA from the Paracas Skulls was not human.  This is not true.  The DNA is definitely human but has “vague genetic abnormalities.  Experts say the abnormalities could be caused by “any number of contaminants or defects in the process.”

More recent DNA analysis has concluded that the Paracas Skulls are indeed human, and the people were earthly in origin.

Even so, there are enough mysteries around this area of Peru to entice the curiosities of archaeologists for years to come.


Please click HERE to find The Scavenger’s Song, a mystery by Sara Marie Hogg on Amazon.

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