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Mónika Molnár, István János, László Szűcs, and László Szathmáry

From an anthropological point of view, artificial deformation of the cranial shape in newborns is one of the most interesting human customs, which has been recorded in all continents and in different cultures. However, the main goals of this procedure were basically the same everywhere; that is, to distinguish certain groups of people from others and to indicate the social status of individuals. In the Carpathian Basin all artificially deformed skulls are dated to the late Iron Age, especially to the early Migration Period. The authors examined 9 artificially deformed skulls from the Hun-Germanic Period (5th–6th century ad) excavated from two cemeteries in the northeastern part of the Great Hungarian Plain (Hungary). The extent and the type of the deformation as well as the technique were determined in each case. The authors also attempt to shed light on the probable origin and the historical context of the custom practiced in the Carpathian Basin (Hungary), relying on the anthropological and historical literature on the Hun-Germanic and preceding periods. It seems possible that this custom, which is associated with the finds in the Carpathian Basin, first appeared in the Kalmykia steppe, later in the Crimea, from where it spread to Central and Western Europe by way of the Hun migration. Neither the cranial find described presently nor the special literature on the subject furnish convincing evidence that the cranial deformation resulted in any chronic neurological disorder.