Artificial modification of the cranial vault was practiced by a number of prehistoric and protohistoric populations, frequently during an infant's first year of life. We test the hypothesis that, in addition to its direct effects on the cranial vault, annular cranial vault modification has a significant indirect effect on cranial base and facial morphology.
Two skeletal series from the Pacific Northwest Coast, which include both nonmodified and modified crania, were used: the Kwakiutl (62 nonmodified, 45 modified) and Nootka (28 nonmodified, 20 modified). Three-dimensional coordinates of 53 landmarks were obtained using a diagraph, and 36 landmarks were used to define nine finite elements in the cranial vault, cranial base, and face. Finite element scaling was used to compare average nonmodified and average modified crania, and the significance of the results were evaluated using a bootstrap test.
Annular modification of the cranial vault produces significant effects on the morphology of the cranial base and face. Annular modification in the Kwakiutl resulted in restrictions of the cranial vault in the medial-lateral and superior-inferior dimensions and an increase in anterior-posterior growth. Similar dimensional changes are observed in the cranial base. The Kwakiutl face is increased anterior-posteriorly and reduced anterior-laterally to posterior-medially. Similar effects of modification are observed in the Nootka cranial vault and cranial base, though not in the face. These results demonstrate the developmental interdependence of the cranial vault, cranial base, and face. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.