Skeleton With Alien-Like Skull Found
The specimen, found in Mexico, also had stone-encrusted teeth.
Archaeologists in Mexico have unearthed the 1,600 year old skeleton of a woman with an elongated, "alien-like" skull and stone-encrusted teeth.
Found at a town called San Juan Evangelista, near the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan some 30 miles from Mexico City, the skeleton belongs to an upper class woman who died at around 35-40 years of age.
According to a statement by the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), the woman was buried with offerings. Archaeologists led by Veronica Ortega found 19 jars near the bones. They estimate the burial dates between 350-400 AD.
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Dubbed "The Woman of Tlailotlacan," the skeleton features a skull that was deliberately deformed.
"It shows signs of erect tabular deformation which was achieved by a very extreme compression," anthropologist Jorge Velasco Archer said.
Tabular or flat-head deformations required compressing the child's frontal and occipital bones with boards or pads. The meaning of skull shaping wasn't just aesthetic but also religious and social.
The Maya themselves told Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, a Spanish chronicler, that head shaping was made to look "noble and handsome and better able to carry loads."
Velasco Archer noted that this type of cranial deformation is more likely found in the southern part of Mesoamerica rather than in the Mexican central region where Teotihuacan is located.
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Encrusted with two round pyrite stones, the skull's front teeth confirmed the woman was a foreigner in Teotihuacan. The dental decoration technique is typical of Mayan regions in southern Mexico and Central America.
The woman also wore a prosthetic lower tooth made of a green stone known as serpentine.
"Tartar formation on the serpentine prosthetic teeth shows the woman used it for a long time," Velasco Archer said.
Analysis is ongoing to determine how the false tooth stood in place and whether some kind of cement was used.
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Best known for its pyramids of the moon and the sun, Teotihuacan was founded 2,500 years ago and was one of the biggest cities on Earth. It thrived between the first and eighth centuries, but in 700 AD, the city was mysteriously abandoned.
According to INAH, the new finding shows Teotihuaca's cosmopolitan character.
"Foreigners were not just servants, but detained positions of power, just like the Woman of Tlailotlacan," INAH said.