A Look at Mayan Artificial Cranial Deformation Practices: Morphological and Cultural Aspects

Samuel Romero-Vargas, M.D.; José Luis Ruiz-Sandoval, M.D.; Arturo Sotomayor-González, M.D.; Rogelio Revuelta-Gutiérrez, M.D.; Miguel Angel Celis-López, M.D.; Juan Luis Gómez-Amador, M.D.; Ulises García-González, M.D.; Raul López-Serna, M.D.; Victor García-Navarro, M.D.; Diego Mendez-Rosito, M.D.; Victor Correa-Correa, M.D.; Sergio Gómez-Llata, M.D.


Neurosurg Focus. 2010;29(6):e2 

In This Article


To gain perspective on this issue, we examined the historical and anthropological literature on intentional deformation practices in Mayan culture in the collections of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in México and the National Autonomous University of México. Evidence of different types of artificially deformed skulls was sought from archaeological collections and previous anthropological investigations.

In the 16th century, Spanish chroniclers provided numerous detailed descriptions of cranial deformation, methods, and materials popular among the Mayan people. Some fascinating fragments of these records are translated and shared with the neurosurgical community in this article.

For purposes of illustration, we also provide images of ancient Mayan art and figurines that represent cranial deformation.