Archaeologists have made a frightening discovery at a dig in Ecuador.
They uncovered the skeletal remains of two infants which appear to be wearing the skulls of other children on their heads.
Experts indicate the macabre ‘helmets’ may have even had flesh on them at the time of the burial.
The skeletons are believed to date back around 2,100 years and were found at a burial mound in Salango on the central Ecuadorian coast. The archaeologists in charge of the project believe these skull helmets to be ‘the only examples of this funeral rite in the world.’
‘Among the 11 identified burials, two infants were interred with “helmets” made from the cranial vaults of other juveniles,’ explained the experts in a paper published in the journal Latin American Antiquity.
‘The additional crania were placed around the heads of the primary burials, likely at the time of burial.’
‘All crania exhibited lesions associated with bodily stress. In this report, we present the only known evidence of using juvenile crania as mortuary headgear, either in South America or globally.’
The remains were uncovered during excavations that lasted from 2014 to 2016 and according to Vice, the archaeologist in charge of the dig was ‘surprised’ by the discovery.
‘We hope to do future studies on isotopes, which allow insight into diet and geophysical location on the landscape, and DNA, which might clarify the relationships between the infants and their accompanying crania,’ lead author Sara Juengst told the site.
‘We probably won’t be able to determine cause of death, since the finds are so old, but we hope to clarify some of the ritual significance in the future by putting these burials in the context of the larger mortuary complex of the mounds and Salango more broadly,’ she said.
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