Was ritualised decapitation practiced in Brazil 9000 years ago?

London, Sep 24 (IANS) A body found at Lapa do Santo archaeological site in Brazil and dated 9000 years old could be a case of ritualised decapitation, say researchers.

Lapa do Santo, located in east-central Brazil, contains evidence of human occupation dating back to 12,000 years ago.

In 2007, researchers found fragments of a buried body, Burial 26, including a cranium, jaw, the first six cervical vertebrae and two severed hands at the site.

The researchers found amputated hands laid over the face of the skull arranged opposite each other and observed v-shaped cut marks on the jaw and sixth cervical vertebra.

Burial 26 was likely a local member of the group, according to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE by Andre Strauss from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, and colleagues.

The presentation of the remains led the authors to think that this was likely a ritualised decapitation instead of trophy-taking.

If this is the case, these remains may demonstrate sophisticated mortuary rituals among hunter-gatherers in the Americas during this time period.

The authors think this may be the oldest case of decapitation found in the New World, leading to a re-evaluation of the previous interpretations of this practice, particularly with regard to its origins and geographic dispersion.

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