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Boards and Cords: Discriminating Types of Artificial Cranial Deformation in Prehispanic South Central Andean Populations

Boards and Cords: Discriminating Types of Artificial Cranial Deformation in Prehispanic South Central Andean Populations

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Boards and Cords: Discriminating Typesof Arti
cial Cranial Deformation inPrehispanic South Central AndeanPopulations
T. G. O
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA50614, USA
Department of Mathematics, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA
ABSTRACT For over a century, a number of ambiguous typologies have been employed to distinctly categorise types ofarti
cial cranial deformation. This paper provides a quantitative method, based on multiple dimensionsand discriminant function analysis, by which to assign skulls not only into discrete categories: deformed ornot, but also by type: annular or tabular. A series of prehispanic, adult, human crania (
=469) fromarchaeological sites in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru represented by both normal and arti
ciallydeformed specimens, provide craniometric data for four measurements across the vault: maximum craniallength, breadth and height and the frontal chord. These data are used to develop three indices which in turnare used to compute two discriminant functions. Results are plotted on a territorial map whereby the type ofdeformity can be determined. When these methods were applied to a comparative cranial sample ofnondeformed skulls from South America, 100% of the samples was found to be nondeformed. Whenthese methods were applied to the samples which were subjectively classi
a prior
by the
rst author asnondeformed, 81.3% of the samples were found to be nondeformed. This study demonstrates the value ofa more objective and quantitative method by which to classify arti
cial cranial deformation, and thus providesa new approach. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Key words: 
annular; craniometrics; cultural cranial modi
cation; discriminant function; head moulding; SouthAmerica; tabular
In physical anthropology, the skull is traditionally thebest part of the skeleton by which to determine sexand/or ancestry for either forensic identi
cation pur-poses or for computing ancient group connections,such as with biodistances. To do this, a plethora ofcraniometric data is usually collected and subjected to multivariate statistical analysis. However, if a skullshows signs of being intentionally altered, it is oftendeemed unusable from a strict craniometric perspective(Cocilovo, 1975). Therefore, it is often that such skullsare discarded from analysis. There are two problemswith this tacit dismissal of valuable cranial information:
rst, interpreting whether or not a cranial vault hasbeen intentionally altered has been and continues tobe an extremely qualitative decision; and second, ifthe skull is judged to be altered, then it is often classi-
ed into a certain style based, once again on ambiguoustypological systems; such systems will be described later. The objectives of this paper are to resolve theseproblems by providing a quantitative approach to de-termining the metric limitations to whether or not askull has been arti
cially deformed, and if so, then todiscretely categorise its type; at least for this regionof the south central Andes from which the samplesused herein originate. For this paper, the phrase arti
-cial cranial deformation (ACD) is used to denote whatothers have called cultural cranial modi
cation, head binding, skull moulding or variants thereof (EllenFitzSimmons & Prost, 1998; Blom, 2005; Torres-Rouff& Yablonsky, 2005; Perez, 2007).Archaeological evidence and ethnohistoric accountsdocument ACD as a human cultural phenomenonfound on almost every continent (Dingwall, 1931). Asa biocultural process, it is de
ned as the product of
*Correspondence to: Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA. 50614
0513 USA.e-mail: tyler.obrien@uni.edu
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Received 15 December 2010 Revised 12 May 2011 Accepted 5 July 2011
 International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
 Int. J. Osteoarchaeol.
Published online in Wiley Online Library(wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/oa.1269
dynamically distorting the normal patterns of neurocra-nial growth in the infant through the agency of exter-nally applied forces (Moss, 1958:275). Deformationcan be produced unintentionally through the inadvert-ent effects of tying the child 
s head to a cradleboard, asseen in some native North American Indian groups(Kohn
et al.
, 1995; Piper, 2002). Yet, the most dramaticeffects come from the intentional process of ACD. Ingeneral, ancient groups from around the world have prac-tised the act of binding the head in basically one of twostyles (see Figure 1): soon after birth, they would either strap hard,
at devices like boards, to both the frontand back of the infant
s head or wrap the infant
shead with tight bandages like cords. By leaving theseapparati on the head for a period of time ranging from3to5years, andbeingoccasionally tightened, theresul-tant growth processes of the brain and cranium would be altered producing in the adult a more upright, boxyshaped skull in the
rst (referred to as tabular) and a more conical shaped skull in the second style (referred to as annular) (Dembo & Imbelloni, 1938). The end result is a permanently altered, adult head that somehave speculated improved a person
s beauty, socialstatus or class; but most widely accept that heashaping marked an individual as belonging to a certainregion, ethnic or kin group or segment of society(Gerszten & Gerszten, 1995; Blom, 1999).
Historical background 
Inthelastcentury,asteadilyincreasingtrendhasemerged in the study of ACD from a biological anthropologicalperspective. Such issues that have been explored include:the effects of deformation on normal patterns of growthand development (Björk & Björk, 1964; Anton, 1989;Cheverud 
et al
., 1992; Kohn
et al
., 1993; Konigsberg
et al
., 1993; Dean, 1995a, 1995b; O
Loughlin, 1996;Pomatto
et al
., 2006); its in
uence on cranial traitmorphology (Ogura
et al
., 2006; Rhode & Arriaza,2006; Del Papa & Perez, 2007; Durband, 2008); theeffects on sutural bone development (Ossenberg,1970; El-Najjar & Dawson, 1977; Gottlieb, 1978;Anton
et al
., 1992; White, 1996; O
Loughlin, 2004;O
Brien & Sensor, 2008); using ACD type distributionacross time and space to interpret migration, ancross-cultural in
uences (Hoshower 
et al
., 1995; Blom
et al
., 1998; Anton & Weinstein, 1999;
zbek, 2001;
Figure 1. Column A: infants. Column B: adults. Column C: adult skull, lateral view. Column D: adult skull, superior view. Row 1: tabular style. Row 2:normal. Row 3: annular style. (Drawing by TGO, modi
ed after Imbelloni, 1938 and Anton, 1989).
T. G. O
 Brien and A. M. Stanley
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Int. J. Osteoarchaeol.
Blom, 2005; Torres-Rouff & Yablonsky, 2005); and mathematical analysis (Shapiro, 1928; Watson, 1999;Frie
& Baylac, 2003; Perez, 2007).For over a century assessing, classifying or scoringforms, types, methods, or techniques of ACD on thehuman skull has remained ambiguous and inconsistent.There are a number of classical works that showthis diversity (Dingwall, 1931; Neumann, 1942; Moss,1958; McNeill & Newton, 1965; Rogers, 1975;Munizaga, 1976; Allison
et al
., 1981; Cheverud 
et al
.,1992; Gerszten, 1993; Buikstra & Ubelaker, 1994). Pre- vious scholars in the
elds of craniology and anthro-pometry recognised from as few as two or three typesto as many as 16 types of ACD (see O
Brien & Sensor,2004). Some made distinctions between unintentionaland intentional, whereas others tended to constructtheir classi
cation by describing cranial shape and form, or by applying geographic distribution, like thenorthwest Paci
c Coast type, or by use of tribal no-menclature, like the Aymara type or the Chinook type(Dingwall, 1931). However, many typological schemestoday tend to favour a stylistic approach de
ned by thedeforming apparatus employed (Buikstra & Ubelaker,1994). Other contemporary approaches continue tocloud the issue by presenting new names for old styles(Munizaga, 1976; Anton, 1989). Previous discussionson the history of the typological study of ACD havetended to ignore the ambiguity in the various classi
ca-tion schemes presented over time (Rogers, 1975; Dean,1995b). Today, we still struggle with de
ning ACDtypes (O
Brien & Sensor, 2004). Therefore, a method by which to quantitatively determine ACD is needed.It is important to be able to categorise ACD by typebecause of its regional variation, especially as it pertainsto prehispanic, human groups in the Andes, but further-more to see how that variation contributes to culturaland archaeological interpretations of such populations.Although the system for assessing types of arti
ciallydeformed crania may be interpreted as seeming sub- jective (Blom, 1999:144), it was Dembo & Imbelloni(1938:240; translated by TGO) who said,
. . .
in theclassi
cation of intentionally deformed types and theuse of their respective terminology, the large number of researchers who study this subject do not agree onany uni
ed vision or system; thereby leaving this mat-ter to be dominated bymassiveconfusion.
Nevertheless,previous classi
cation schemes of ACD, regardless of the variety of types they have produced, seem to agree onone common trait
that intentional deformation can beperformed in basically one of two manners: either withboards or cords. Argentine physical anthropologist JoséImbelloni (1938, 1963) was certainly one of the
rstto note this duality. It was modi
ed slightly by Anton(1989) and subsequently adopted for ACD documenta-tion and recording by Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994).Imbelloni (1923; 1924
25) sought to interpret theranges of cranial deformity that were arti
cially induced by utilising geometric and trigonometric techniques.The methods that he utilised were never widely accepted,most likely because his work was published in museumannals or as research reports. But he eventually created asimpleandusefultypologyfordescribingSouthAmericanskulls (Imbelloni, 1938; see also Dembo & Imbelloni,1938) (see Figure 1). For his
rst type he renames the
style (Hrdli
ka, 1922, 1923) asthe
form, characterised by bandages, belts or cords wrapped around the infant
s head. The deformingapparatus would pass across the individual
s forehead transversely, run above the ears and be bound at or around the lower back of the head. The result of thisdeformation technique would produce a skull shapethat was obliquely conical when viewed in pro
le. For his second type, Imbelloni names the utilisation ofboards or hard 
at surfaces bound to the child 
s head as the
form. The deforming apparatus wastypically a thin,
at board placed across the forehead and tied laterally to another board placed across theback of the head. The stronger forces of deformationwould produce a nearly box-like vault shape, that is,high and short).Imbelloni supports a more geometric approach incraniomorphologicla assessment of ACD when hestates that: (translated by TGO from original: Imbelloni,1923:32):
. . .
an exact or mathematical morphology should beemployed to reduce the synthetic expression of theskull to a group of geometric formulas, that repre-sent the most signi
cant analytical relationships be-tween points, lines and planes; relationships that inde
ning geometric notation appear in the form ofarcs, angles and chords.This observation by Imbelloni is applied within thispaper; such that, in normal (nondeformed) skulls, thelength of the frontal, parietal or occipital chords varybetween and within populations. However, when com-pared with individuals exhibiting signs of ACD, such asannular or tabular, the chord lengths and vault shape,in general, are more greatly altered (Anton, 1989).For example, in an annular deformed skull, the poster-ior parietals extend superiorly and posteriorly, and thebones of the frontal, occipital and cranial base arelengthened (Anton, 1989; Kohn
et al
., 1993). In a tabu-lar deformed skull, the postero-lateral parietals (thebosses) are often widened laterally becoming somewhat
 Discriminating Types of Arti
cial Cranial Deformation
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Int. J. Osteoarchaeol.

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