Some archeological discoveries, unlike the three-fingered Peruvian mummies, can cause people to go, “Hmm, that really COULD be an alien.” One such recent find in Crimea was a grave containing the remains of a one-year-old child with an unusually large skull, even for an elongated skull culture, that caused some to refer to it as an “alien’s grave.” Even if it’s not, the ancient people who this child belonged to had some odd traits that might make them seem alien, both 2,000 years ago and today.
According to reports, the remains of a one-year-old boy were found near the village of Yakovenkovo in the eastern part of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. The grave also contained pottery, small beads and a copper bracelet which dated it to the 1st century CE, putting it in the era when the Sarmatians ruled this area. The boy’s elongated skull also linked him to the Sarmatians, who were known to practice the cranial alteration, especially on infants whose soft heads could be manipulated dramatically, as was the case here, which prompted some ‘alien’ comments.
“Barbarian” might have been a better description of the culture that subjected infants to this type of torture. The Sarmatians began in what is now Iran and moved to southern European Russia and the eastern Balkans by the 4th century BCE. They were known to be a warring people and cranial alteration probably contributed to this, since the practice is known to cause aggressive behavior (go figure). That probably means that the boy found in the Crimean ‘alien grave’ was destined to be a warrior.
However, the early Sarmatians were also known to be a matriarchal society with a decidedly female warrior reputation, one that is said to have inspired Greek tales of the Amazons. One different yet equally gruesome form of body modification was described by Hippocrates, who also admired the fighting ability of Sarmatian women:
“Their women, so long as they are virgins, ride, shoot, throw the javelin while mounted, and fight with their enemies. They do not lay aside their virginity until they have killed three of their enemies, and they do not marry before they have performed the traditional sacred rites. A woman who takes to herself a husband no longer rides, unless she is compelled to do so by a general expedition. They have no right breasts…for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm.”
Despite this, the men eventually took over and they were eventually defeated and assimilated into the Slavic population of eastern Europe. Coincidence?
There’s also speculation that the Sarmatian legend of Batraz, a Sarmatian king who ordered his troops to throw his magical sword into a lake, inspired the similar Arthurian legend.
Elongated skulls, breast cauterizing, aggressive behavior. The Sarmatians may not have been true ‘aliens’ but they certainly were alienating.