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A metric study of three types of artificial cranial modification from north-central Peru

By Emma Pomeroy, Jay T. Stock, Sonia Zakrzewski and Marta Mirazon Lahr


Artificial cranial modification (ACM) involves the alteration of cranial vault shape by cultural means, and is performed during infancy while the cranial bones remain soft and malleable. The direction of normal cranial growth is altered through the application of external forces. In this study, three types of ACM from north-central Peru (posterior flattening, bilobed and circumferential) were analysed using standard craniometric techniques. The aim was to determine the effects of these forms of ACM on craniofacial morphology, and the extent to which different types of ACM could be distinguished from one another and unmodified crania on the basis of these measurements. Significant differences between artificially modified and unmodified crania, and between different types of ACM, were demonstrated in cranial vault shape for all types. Significant differences in facial morphology were found only in the bilobed group compared with the unmodified crania. Canonical variates analysis (discriminant analysis) confirmed that major differences between modification types and unmodified crania were in measurements and angles of the cranial vault. While the results show some similarities to previous studies, they add to the variability in the patterns and extent of differences documented to date. It is suggested, based on these results and visual observations, that interpopulation variation in ACM within major modification categories may explain some of the variability in results between studies, an explanation which has previously received insufficient recognition but which remains to be tested since varied methodology between studies may also be a contributory factor. While previous studies have often sought to generalise about the effects of ACM, the examination of the differences between populations even within major ACM categories may offer new insight into cultural variation in modification techniques between populations and the nature of craniofacial development.<br/

Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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