Ancient peoples in the Americas practiced head flattening as a mark of social status. Head flattening is the practice of shaping the skull by binding an infant's head. Typically the skull would be wrapped or bound between two boards to form an elongated conical shape. Mayans shaped the heads of the highest ranking children, those of priests and nobles, between two boards for several days after birth. Some Incas also shaped the heads of male infants by wrapping their heads with braided wool straps for more than a year. One recovered Incan skull was formed into two peaks. Head flattening was also practiced by Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, and by the ancient peoples of Oceania, Africa, and Europe.
Cobo, Bernabé. Inca Religion and Customs. Translated and edited by Roland Hamilton. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1990.
Davies, Nigel. The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru. New York: Penguin, 1997.
Day, Nancy. Your Travel Guide to Ancient Mayan Civilization. Minneapolis, MN: Runestone Press, 2001.
[ See also Volume 2, African Cultures: Head Flattening ]