Posted by: Leslie White | July 9, 2010

A scavenger hunt of amazing information

It started this morning when I was reading a $0.75 book I recently bought at a flea market. The book, ” Irving: Tales of a Traveler” by Krapp (copyright 1901), mentioned the term “physiognomy”, which I have heard of often, but never fully understood. So I did a Google Search on physiognomy and started a bit of a journey…

Physiognomy is the ancient art/science of determining a person’s character by their facial features. These websites captured my attention:

See more drawings like this:

From the Wikipedia link above, I was particularly intrigued by the mention of Sir Thomas Browne: “Browne possessed several of the writings of the Italian Giambattista della Porta including his Of Celestial Physiognomy, which argued that it was not the stars but a person’s temperament that influences facial appearance and character. In his book De humana physiognomia (1586), Porta used woodcuts of animals to illustrate human characteristics.” Browne also is believed to have coined the term “caricature”! As I continued to look up information about ancient and modern physiognomy, I came across this website:

It seems that ancient elongated skulls have been unearthed all over the word.  After reading about some pretty wild theories (such as skull binding and not-so-little green men), I then wanted to find a name for a condition/disease that could possibly cause this elongation. I discovered the term “Dolicocefalia” along with this definition “Condición en la cual el cráneo tiene un diámetro anteroposterior más largo que el normal. ; Cualidad del cráneo humano que tiene forma muy oval.”  I know enough Spanish to get the gist of it – so yep, sounds about right. However, since the title of this condition is Spanish , doing a search for the term brings up all Spanish articles, which I can’t translate. I even tried doing a search for “elongated skulls” and “Dolicocefalia” within the UIC Library Database, but none of the search engines had any idea what I was talking about.

At any rate, one of the wild articles I found via Google was this: which of course led to this: Though I don’t how I feel about its viability, the idea that there were once giant humans roaming the Earth intrigues the heck out of me.

Depiction of the Nephilim: Artist and painting name unknown

“All over the world elongated skulls have been found. Some of the Pharoahs of Egypt had very elongated skulls. For example Ramases II and most surprisingly Nefertiti. There are many theories of why these people had skulls like this. Malta was very likely to be an important place in the old days. After all it had many very old temples. There are reports of the “Serpant race” or Snake Priests being in charge. The idea that esoteric knowledge would be kept in a “race” or class of people is not surprising, after all the Jews have their own Priest Tribe, the Celtics had the Druids etc.” (via

So that last website took me to the tiny island of Malta : where apparently a group of men with elongated skulls had been buried. Malta, which is believed to have been settled in 5200 B.C.E., has a interesting history, full of ancient cave dwelling sites, prehistoric gravesites, and speculation that it was located near the legendary island of Atlantis. So then I went to Atlantis…

I am avid reading of Plato’s philosophies, and he was convinced that Atlantis had actually existed:  “Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.” ~ Plato in Timaeus 24e–25a, R. G. Bury translation (Loeb Classical Library) via

So now at the end of a day which started with a book, all this has inspired me to reread two of my favorite books, Plato’s “The Republic” and Thomas Moore’s “Utopia”. This summer, as fun as it is, has been keeping me busy to the point of exhaustion, and it was a nice release to spend a couple hours in independent reading and learning.


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