PERERVA E.V. Intentional Artifiсial Cranial Deformation in the Late Sarmatian Population (Paleopathological Aspect)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2023.4.5

Evgeniy V. Pererva

Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor,

Department of History and International Relations, Volgograd State University,

Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8285-4461


Abstract. Introduction. Intentional artificial head deformation is one of the most striking features of the late Sarmatian nomads from the Eastern European steppes. For quite a long time, archaeologists and anthropologists tried to solve the issues associated with this custom’s emergence and existence in the population of the 2nd – 4 th centuries AD. Later, the question of the deforming structure’s impact on the normal life of a person became a separate research line for the phenomenon of artificial cranial deformation in the late Sarmatians.

Methods and materials. 155 craniums of sexually mature late Sarmatian populations (2nd – 4th centuries AD) originating from under the burial mounds in the territory of the Lower Volga region were the material for the study. Comparison of pathological conditions occurrence between the deformed and undeformed skull groups was carried out using nonparametric tests: Pearson’s chi-squared test (χ2) and Fisher’s exact test. Results. Comparative analysis of pathological conditions occurrence on deformed and undeformed skulls in late Sarmatian time has shown that the only deviation in which the compared series differ significantly is temporomandibular joint arthritis. Discussion. The frequency and degree of articular disease development in late Sarmatians with intentional artificial head deformities increase with age. The age-related variability of arthrotic changes in the mandibular joint area indicates the involutionary nature of this condition. At the same time, the absence of statistical differences between age groups in the distribution frequencies of this pathology and its wide distribution in young individuals under 35 years of age suggest that artificial skull deformation is one of the factors stimulating its development.

Conclusions. Degenerative changes in the temporomandibular joint area are a statistically more widespread pathology in deformed skulls. The absence of gender differences between the deformed and undeformed skulls in the late Sarmatians, as well as the groups of pathologies associated with diet and the degree of negative factors impacting the natural and social environment, indicates that this custom in the late Sarmatian society did not carry the function of gender or social differentiation. The use of a modifying structure for deliberate artificial cranial deformation is quite compatible with normal human life, and its use did not subsequently lead to the development of serious skull and brain pathologies.

Key words: Late Sarmatians, intentional artificial deformation, temporomandibular joint, stress markers, skulls.

Citation. Pererva E.V. Intentional Artifiсial Cranial Deformation in the Late Sarmatian Population (Paleopathological Aspect). Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2023, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 57-71. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2023.4.5.

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Intentional Artifiсial Cranial Deformation in the Late Sarmatian Population (Paleopathological Aspect) by Pererva E.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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