Artificial cranial modifications of human remains from archeological sites in China

Author(s): Ying Nie; Dong Wei; Hua Zhang; Dongya Yang; Hong Zhu

Year: 2017


This paper explores artificial cranial deformation from two archaeological sites in China. Jilintai cemetery (2500 – 2000BP) is located in Yili region, northwestern Xinjiang, and Yingpan cemetery (2000 – 1500BP) is located in Yuli county, northeastern Xinjiang. A total of 253 crania (202 from Jilintai and 51 from Yingpan) were examined in this study. Crania were measured according to the Standards Book, and 11 angles and 6 indices were calculated. Statistical analyses include discriminant function analysis and the one-way ANOVA test.

The results show that 23 crania (female=10, male=13) were modified in Jilintai sample. In contrast at Yingpan, 22 crania (female=15, male=7) were deformed. The inter-population comparison shows that all crania from both sites exhibited circumferential modification, indicating a similar cultural tradition. The significant differences between modified and unmodified crania were on measurements of cranial length and breadth, and angles of the vault, while there are no significant differences in facial morphology. The intra-population comparison suggests that generally females display more pronounced deformation than males. In addition, individuals with deformed crania possess more prestigious burial goods, especially females, than those with normal cranial morphology. This may suggest that individuals with deformed crania enjoyed higher social status in their community.

Cite this Record

Artificial cranial modifications of human remains from archeological sites in China. Ying Nie, Dong Wei, Hua Zhang, Dongya Yang, Hong Zhu. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 432004)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16082