Head Cones For Ancient Egyptians: Not Alien Heads

In 2010, researchers excavating this young woman's grave discovered a waxy cone atop her head. (Amarna Project, as published in Stevens et al. 2019, Antiquity)

Health Editor’s Note: For some reason ancient Egyptian and other cultures thought/think that elongated skulls were/are desirable.  Head binding, artificial cranial deformation or modification, or head flattening is an intentional alteration of the developing skull by applying force to an infant’s skull when the cranial plates are the most malleable and have the spaces between these plates that naturally fill in. While there is no give in a developed skull, an infant’s skull can be malformed by manipulation as well as by some diseases. 

We have noticed that these head binding individuals’ skulls take on the appearance of how we view alien heads.  Perhaps these head binding individuals as well as those wearing head cones would take on the appearance of aliens in ancient drawings and that is how we developed our concept of an alien head.  And we cannot forget the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live years…..Carol

Ancient Egyptian Head Cones Were Real, Grave Excavations Suggest

by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonian.com

The ancient Egyptians were known for their spectacular headwear, from double crowns worn by pharaohs to the striped nemes headcloths immortalized by Tutankhamun’s golden death mask. But some of the items worn by the ancients have long defied explanation. Take, for instance, head cones: mysterious, elongated domes found adorning the heads of prominent figures in an array of 3,550- to 2,000-year-old works of art.

Archaeologists batted theories back and forth for years, speculating on the purpose of these curious cones. Some contended they were scented lumps of ointment designed to be melted, then used to cleanse and perfume the body. Others insisted the cones were part of a burial ritual, entombed with their wearers to confer fortune or fertility in the afterlife. And many doubted whether the cones were real at all: Perhaps, they argued, the cones were restricted to the two-dimensional realm of wall paintings—pure artistic symbolism denoting special status like halos in Christian art, as Colin Barras writes for Science magazine.

Now, after years of doubt, the naysayers have (probably) been proven wrong. Reporting yesterday in the journal Antiquity, a team led by Anna Stevens of Australia’s Monash University unearthed two real-life head cones in graves……

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    • It depends on the age of the reporting. On the Internet it’s photoshop, in 19th century newspapers more likely to be real.

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