An investigation of intentionally modified crania in Georgia and Europe in the Migration Period (4th – 7th c AD)
AuthorMayall, Peter Ronald
AffiliationAnatomy and Neuroscience
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr. Peter Ronald Mayall
This aim of this research is to examine the custom of intentional cranial modification in the Mtskheta region of Georgia during the Migration Period (4th ‒ 7th c AD) by comparing it with that in Europe, particularly investigating the role of the Huns in intensifying the practice during this time. Thirty-two intentionally modified adult crania from Georgia were compared with thirty-one from Hungary, which included eleven juveniles, thirteen adult crania from Germany, two from the Czech Republic, one from Austria and one from Crimea. The control group comprised nineteen non-modified adult crania from worldwide collections in the department of Anatomy at the University of Melbourne. Geometric morphometric techniques were used to provide a quantitative comparison of the modified cranial shape. There were four main areas of study commencing in Georgia, moving to Hungary and then to other European sites. 1. The analysis of modified crania in Mtskheta, Georgia revealed a proliferation of the practice corresponding to the European Migration Period. The predominance of females and absence of juveniles indicated that cranial modification was not an indigenous practice but occurred due to migration. 2. To investigate the presence or influence of the Huns in the practice of cranial modification in Georgia, eigenshape analysis was used to compare modified cranial shape outlines in Georgia with Hungary, the centre of Hunnic administration and cultural influence, with modern non-modified crania for comparison. Firstly, this method could distinguish between modified and non-modified crania and secondly found that the shape of the Georgian modified crania differed significantly from those in Hungary. The Georgian crania had considerable variation in shape whereas those from Hungary revealed great homogeneity. These findings suggested that Huns were not directly involved in the practice of cranial modification in Georgia. 3. Juvenile modified crania were common in Hungary, which confirmed that the practice was indigenous in this region and provided the impetus for a three-dimensional analysis to compare juvenile and adult modified cranial surface in Georgia and Hungary. This demonstrated that the Hungarian crania had been modified by two bindings distinguishing them from the Georgian crania which were modified with single or double bindings and thus showed greater variation. This confirmed the hypothesis that the Huns used this specific technique of cranial modification to differentiate individuals within their area of dominance. 4. Three-dimensional surface analysis of modified crania was extended to Crimea, Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Principal component and discriminant function analyses indicated that the modified crania from these sites did not strictly conform to the Hungarian double binding form, but showed increased variation as in Georgia, indicating that there were multiple conflicting social influences in pursuing the practice of intentional cranial modification among nomadic groups in the Migration Period of Europe. Quantitative shape analysis of three dimensional images revealed regional differences in cranial morphology and demonstrated the importance of the practice in promoting social identity. This provided an understanding of the cultural interactions taking place during this period of intense social change in Europe.
Keywordsintentional cranial modification; Georgia: Huns; Europe
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