Ancient headless skeletons unearthed during excavations in China are the remains of victims who were killed about 4,100 years ago during a “headhunt” in Neolithic Asia.
“Headhunting” – it’s a custom to take the heads of enemies as trophies, Live Science reports.
In the excavated two houses and three tombs, 68 skeletons were found, of which 41 – without heads, and these were women and children.
“Headless women and children with cuts on the cervical vertebrae testify to the cruelty of these people“, – said Charlotte Roberts, emeritus professor of archeology at Durham University in the UK.
|Photo: Qian Wang/Texas A&M University School of Dentistry|
Of the 41 headless victims, 32 were likely killed in one go.
“Heads of members of enemy tribes were taken for some ritual significance to conquer or possess the soul and energy of enemies“, – said the senior author of the study, Professor of Biomedical Sciences Qian Wang.
All but a few of the headless skeletons had narrow V- and U-shaped incisions.
People were beheaded with knives with bone handles and sharp stone blades.
Researchers do not fully understand why women and children were the targets, and not adult men. Perhaps the Honghe people – community of farmers, hunters and fishermen, actively conflicted with other tribes, as evidenced by three defensive ditches found in the settlement.
Probably, the settlement was attacked by a rival tribe when all the men were away. Then, after the attack, the attackers could take the heads away as trophies.
When the men returned, researchers believe they placed the bodies in two houses for burial and then left the settlement.
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Iryna Bura, UP. Life