A peculiar discovery was made by archaeologists in Croatia where three skeletons, two of which had artificially deformed skulls, were unearthed from an ancient burial pit, Live Science reports.
According to the media outlet, both skulls "had been melded into a different shape, possibly as a way to show they belonged to a specific cultural group."
The skeletons were originally found at the Hermanov vinograd archeological site in 2013, with scientists then performing a variety of tests on the remains, including DNA analysis and radiographic imaging, between 2014 and 2017.
The results revealed that all three of the deceased were males who lived between A.D. 415 and 560, and died between ages 12 and 16; one of the boys had a West Eurasian ancestry, another a near-Eastern ancestry and the third an East Asian ancestry.
"We propose that different skull deformation types in Europe were used as a visual indicator of association with a certain cultural group", senior author Mario Novak, a bioarchaeologist at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, said.
At this time, Novak and his team are seeking to uncover more such human remains in Europe in order to better study this phenomenon and to understand it "on a larger scale", the media outlet adds.