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Neurosurg Focus. 2010 Dec;29(6):E2. doi: 10.3171/2010.9.FOCUS10200.

A look at Mayan artificial cranial deformation practices: morphological and cultural aspects.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Instituto Nacional de Neurologia y Neurocirugia "Manuel Velazco Suarez," Mexico City, Mexico.


Induced deformation of the cranial vault is one form of permanent alteration of the body that has been performed by human beings from the beginning of history as a way of differentiating from others. These procedures have been observed in different cultures, but were particularly widespread in Mesoamerica. The authors examined and reviewed the historical and anthropological literature of intentional deformation practices in Mayan culture. The Mayans performed different types of cranial deformations and used different techniques and instruments to deform children's heads. The most remarkable morphological alteration is seen in the flattening of the frontal bone. Some archeological investigations link deformation types with specific periods. This article provides a glance at the cultural environment of the Mayans and demonstrates the heterogeneity of this interesting cultural phenomenon, which has changed over time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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