Artificial cranial deformation in Pleistocene Australians: the Coobool Creek sample

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Several authors have suggested that some Pleistocene Australian crania have been altered by artificial cranial deformation. The large sample from Coobool Creek has featured prominently in this debate. The present study reevaluates the evidence for artificial cranial deformation in this population using both a larger cranial sample and a more comprehensive set of measurements than those used in earlier work on this subject. Additionally, random expectation statistics are used to calculate statistical significance for these examinations. The results of this study agree with prior work indicating that a portion of this sample shows evidence for artificial deformation of the cranial vault. Many Coobool Creek crania display strong shape similarities with a population of known deformed individuals from New Britain. Coobool Creek crania 1, 41, 65, and 66 show the strongest evidence for deformation, but several other individuals from this sample also show clear evidence for culturally manipulated changes in cranial shape. This project provides added support for the argument that at least some Pleistocene Australian groups were practicing artificial cranial deformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-813
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Australia
  • Multivariate analysis


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