All  

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ Mobile

Legendary Iranian king Rostam, depicted in this 7th century CE mural at Panjikent, Sogdia, with an elongated skull in the fashion of the Alchon Huns (Public Domain)

The Huns Used a Grotesque Practice to Unify Their People (Video)

Print

The Huns, infamous invaders of the Roman Empire, employed a unique practice to distinguish and unify their people. Recent archaeological investigations and DNA analyses have shed light on their extreme approach – cranial modification. This deliberate and irreversible shaping of their children's heads served as a powerful marker of shared identity. In an era of numerous tribes and groups vying for control, this distinct feature made it easy to differentiate friend from foe. Under the leadership of Attila, the Huns absorbed various tribes they encountered on their journey from the East. The rise in elongated skulls wasn't solely due to more Huns arriving but also because locally-born individuals underwent the same deformation.

Why would these locals in former Roman settlements subject their children to such an ordeal and align with the Huns? One possible explanation, supported by scientific investigation, is food. The Huns' diverse and nutritious diet could have been an enticing factor for communities on the empire's fringes. In this unstable environment, aligning with the Huns promised a more secure lifestyle and their children's survival. The Huns also excelled in warfare, providing a compelling reason for locals to choose them as allies. The elongated skulls served as a permanent symbol of privilege, an unspoken agreement cemented on the body.

Top image: Legendary Iranian king Rostam, depicted in this 7th century CE mural at Panjikent, Sogdia, with an elongated skull in the fashion of the Alchon Huns (Public Domain)

By Robbie Mitchell

 
Robbie Mitchell's picture

Robbie

I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

Next article