LONDON-An ‘alien boy’ with a weirdly elongated skull found in a tomb in Crimea was in fact a a boy marked out to be an ancient warrior, say Russian archaeologists.

The artificially lengthened head was a feature of children being groomed as Sarmatian fighters almost 2,000 years ago, they say. Archaeologists made the startling find at a burial site close to a giant £2.9billion ($3.8billion) bridge currently under construction. It was immediately called an ‘alien’s grave’, said the scientists.  The find was made at Kyz-Aul, close to Kerch, where Vladimir Putin has commissioned construction of the bridge.

It will connect the peninsula, annexed from Ukraine in a 2014 military operation, to mainland Russia.

One Russian state media outlet reported that ‘some adherents of “ancient astronauts” theories claim that the owners of such lengthened skulls may be human-extraterrestrial hybrids’.

The boy warrior from the second century AD is believed to have been aged between 18 months and two years old when he died. Nikolay Sudarev, a scientist from the Archaeology Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, denied the grave was linked to alien civilisations. ‘Elongated skulls were traditional for the Sarmatian culture,’ he said, according to Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. ‘They thought this was more beautiful.’ The artificially elongated skull was a sign of a ‘true warrior’ and the deformation process was practiced by a number of ancient cultures. It began early in childhood when the bones were still soft, and no surgery was needed. Special wooden planks were tied to the skull, pressing the bones and gradually altering the shape. Such deformations were seen as altering the character, and making the warriors ‘more aggressive’.

Near the skeleton was found a vessel made of clay, along with tiny beads.

On the boy’s arm there was a copper bracelet.

While this infant was identified as male the Sarmatians were also famed for their female warriors who helped to conquer Crimea in ancient times.

The prominent role of the group’s women in warfare was seen as an inspiration to the Amazons.