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Ancient remains found in France points to barbaric practice of skull binding

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Her skull warped into a deformed, pointy shape, the remains of an aristocratic woman has been unearthed in a French necropolis. Found in the Alsace region, the necropolis houses 38 tombs that span more than 4,000 years, from the Stone Age to the Dark Ages.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - First discovered found in 2011, archaeologists were doing a preliminary excavation of the area before the beginning of a big industrial building project.

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The Obernai region where the remains were found contains a river along with highly fertile soil. The area has attracted people for thousands of years, Philippe Lefranc, an archaeologist who excavated the Stone Age burials says.

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Lefranc and his colleagues say that the tombs were well preserved by the limestone rock in which they were buried. Twenty tombs of men, women and children were unearthed.

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"The corpses are lying on their backs, with outstretched legs and heads turned westwards," Lefranc said.

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Dating between between 4900 B.C. and 4750 B.C., the tombs also contained a few stone vases and tools. There were also ornaments such as mother-of-pearl elbow bracelets and collars. Archaeologists theorize that the remains may have been a family from a Neolithic farming and animal-herding culture that lived in long houses and buried their dead in cemeteries.

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The second burial, found in a separate area, revealed 18 tombs from either the late Roman period or the early Dark Ages, about 1,650 years ago.

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One of the tombs held a woman who had a deformed, flattened forehead.

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"The deformation of the skull with the help of bandages (narrow strips of cloth) and small boards is a practice coming from central Asia," Lefranc wrote in an email. "It was popularized by the Huns and adopted by many German people."

The deformed, alien-like skull was a privilege reserved for the aristocracy - after they died. "In France, Germany and eastern Europe, these deformed skulls appear in tombs rich in objects," Lefranc said.

The woman's tomb also contained gold pins, belts known as chatelaines, pearls, a comb made of a stag antler and a bronze mirror.

The team speculates that the 1,650-year-old graves held mercenary soldiers from the East and their families, who were employed by the Roman Army during the waning days of the Roman empire.

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