9000-Year-Old Skull Found In Brazil Shows World's Oldest Decapitation

Posted: Sep 24 2015, 5:44am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 24 2015, 7:22am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

9000-Year-Old Skull Found in Brazil shows the Oldest Known Case of Decapitation
More than 9,000-year-old skull discovered in Brazil represents Americas’ oldest known instance of human decapitation. Credit: ScienceNews
  • Decapitation was Practiced as far back as Nine Millennia

An ancient skull has been unearthed in Brazil and the evidence gathered about it shows one thing only. And that is that decapitation was practiced as far back as nine millennia.

A human skull was found among a pile of rocks in Brazil. It happens to be the oldest example of decapitation. Carbon dating methods gauge its age to be more than 9000 years.

While heads have beent cut in South America as far back as 5000 years ago, this one beats the record by a whopping 4000 years. This changes the equation by which we measure the culture and civilization extant in the ancient times.

It is also a thousand years earlier than the earliest cases of decapitation in North America. In fact, if you come to think of it, it might be the oldest case of decapitation on the entire planet. The skull was unearthed about 8 years ago.

A pair of cut-off hands covered the skull. Dents in the neck bone showed where the head had been decapitated. The head-slicing probably occurred after the death of the individual in this case. The skull also furnished proof as to what sort of diet the individual ate.

This was clearly a case of ceremonial decapitation. The site was known as Lapa do Santo. However, despite the connotations of it having been a vicious and savage act, it was probably just a ritualistic one.

Signs of respect for the body can be seen in the act of placing the severed hands upon the skull in a crossed position. The ritual probably required a re-alignment of the human body for the sheer purpose of appeasing the primitive spirits.

More clues will come from a thorough study of the culture surrounding the decapitated skull. Only then will we know for sure the “how” and “why” of the situation at hand.

Undoubtedly, this is the New World’s oldest practice of decapitation. The period in time is the Holocene. And it seems to have been a practice of the hunter gatherers. The team of German researchers who studied the remains in Brazil were enthused by the find.

The rituals are suggestive of a strange yet sophisticated set of traditions that were of great importance to the primitive group of tribal men and women. One thing is for sure though.

The individual was not someone from outside the group. He was an insider. And the group members were probably trying to ease his way into the afterworld instead of venting their frustrations upon him by decapitating him.

The research published on September 23 in the journal PLOS ONE.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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