Are you tired of having to wear a top hat to show how upper-class you are? Why not change the shape of your skull? Alas, it is too late for you, but your children may benefit. For at least 10,000 years, humans have been molding the malleable heads of babies into unusual and unnatural shapes as a marker of social distinction. The practice seems to have developed independently in many civilizations. Ancient Europeans, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Maya, the Inca, and Native American tribes all used various methods to alter the shape of their children’s skulls.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, described the technique used to achieve artificial cranial deformation in 400 BC: “They think those the most noble who have the longest heads. It is thus with regard to the usage: immediately after the child is born, and while its head is still tender, they fashion it with their hands, and constrain it to assume a lengthened shape by applying bandages and other suitable contrivances whereby the spherical form of the head is destroyed, and it is made to increase in length.”