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Who are the Coneheads of southern Peru? Aliens? Other species?

It can be a challenge to make sense of the many civilizations that have cycled through the southern Peruvian desert, but the Regional Museum of Ica can help you make sense of it all.

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As you enter into the museum, you’ll take a walk through the ages – quite literally. The museum is designed to take you from one era to the next, and there are large signs indicating exactly what age range you are looking at. You’ll start with the hunters and gatherers many thousands of years ago and slowly work your way through the millennia.

Click here to see a slide show of the Regional Museum of Ica

The Regional Museum of Ica has some of the best ancient pottery I’ve ever seen, along with textiles in extraordinarily good shape. The dryness of the desert in the region has contributed to the various artifacts being so well preserved.

The other, perhaps even more fascinating, section of the museum features mummies, skulls, and other human remains. The mummies are in remarkably good shape, and there are several of them on display. There is also evidence of some type of medical affliction that affected the population.

But perhaps the most puzzling of the artifacts are the coneheads with elongated skulls. The traditional explanation for the elongation is banding – tightly wrapping the heads of babies in order to force a deformation of the skull. On several of the skulls you can clearly see the marks of the bands.

Other skulls, however, appear to be elongated naturally. They are perfectly smooth and show no evidence of having been banded. There are reports that a pregnant mummy has been found and x-rays indicate the fetus to have an elongated skull.

Who were the coneheads? Aliens? A different species? Or just a fluke?

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Ica lies about 200 miles south of Lima. Buses leave Lima every 15 minutes and take four hours to get to Ica. The Regional Museum of Ica is easily reached from anywhere in town. And taxi driver can take you there for $.50.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is currently cycling from Alaska to Argentina with her husband and twin sons. She is documenting their journey for Guinness World Records at www.familyonbikes.org and has a regular column at the Communities to The Washington Times.  She is also the World Bike Touring Examiner.

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