Archaeologists working in Mexico have recently discovered the skeletal remains of a woman, with ornate, stone-encased teeth and alien-like skull. Dating back around 1,600 years, the bone fragments were uncovered in the town of San Juan Evangelista, located close to the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan approximately 48 km (or 30 miles) from the country’s capital.
The skeleton, according to experts, likely belonged to an upper class female, who died aged somewhere between 35 to 40 years. Led by Veronica Ortega, the team from the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) also unearthed other artifacts, including 19 jars, that might have been buried along with the deceased.
Based on their calculations, the burial took place between 350 to around 400 AD. The corpse, which is being referred to as “the woman of Tlailotlacan”, is unique, thanks to its alien-like, elongated skull. As the researchers point out, the deformation of the cranial bones was quite possibly deliberate. Speaking about the find, Jorge Velasco Archer, an anthropologist at INAH, explained:
It shows signs of erect tabular deformation which was achieved by a very extreme compression.
Such artificial deformations of the skull were actually the result of forcefully compressing an infant’s occipital and frontal bones using special pads or boards. In addition to aesthetic reasons, the practice had religious as well as social relevance. According to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, it was believed that a flat head made the person appear “noble and handsome and better able to carry loads”.
As pointed out by Velasco Archer, the practice was more prevalent in the southern region of Mesoamerica than the central part, which is home to Teotihuacan. Furthermore, two of the skeleton’s front teeth were found encased in pyrite stone, thus indicating that the woman did not actually belong to Teotihuacan.
According to the archaeologists, such teeth adornments were common in parts of Central America and southern Mexico. The skull also featured a prosthetic tooth carved entirely out of a green stone called serpentine. Archer added:
Tartar formation on the serpentine prosthetic teeth shows the woman used it for a long time.
The team is currently trying to figure out whether some type of cement was used to embed the fake tooth in the woman’s gum. Home to the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, Teotihuacan was once a major city, until it was mysteriously deserted in around 700 AD. The discovery, the researchers believe, in turn points to the cosmopolitan character of the once-thriving city. They were reported saying:
Foreigners were not just servants, but detained positions of power, just like the Woman of Tlailotlacan.