There’s a newsbit doing the rounds of international summer-starved media about a funny cranium found at St. Nicholas’ church in Sarpsborg, Norway during excavations headed by Mona Beate Buckholm of Østfoldmuseet. The cranium belonged to a batch of bones surfacing when some rose bushes were moved. Radiocarbon dates them to most likely the 11th century AD. The find is touted as having “the same genetic marks as the Inca people of Latin America”. This is an oversimplification.
Here’s what it’s all about, and I translate from the Norwegian:
“One of the men had a cranium with a split neck bone, a so-called ‘Inca bone’. That is, he was the bearer of a rare hereditary trait where the seam between the two points called asterion in the rear of the neck does not ossify and close during foetal development in the usual way. In people with an Inca bone, this seam remains visible throughout their lives. This trait almost exclusively occurs in South American Indians, and is most common in Peru.”
“Almost exclusively”. “Most common”. As there are no South American artefacts from the site, the most parsimonious view is that the find demonstrates the existence of this trait among 11th century Norwegians as well.
Thanks to Ian Rogers for the heads-up.