In ancient times, human skulls exerted a fascination that still endures in many cultures. From time to time, archaeologists stumble upon surprising vestiges related to this theme. For example, the ancient tomb of the decapitated.
When did it happen? During excavations of the ancient settlement of Honghe. This existed in northeastern China in the second half of the 5th millennium BC. There archaeologists found 14 burials. There were 68 skeletons, 41 of which were decapitated, with all the bones belonging to women and children.
In addition, another burial pit contained four skulls of adult males. Perhaps they came to the territory of the settlement in the form of trophies of defeated enemies. This is reported in the article published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.
The report notes that the remains of 33 people – 32 of whom were headless – were found inside only two dwellings. Most of the bodies were buried in an extended position on their backs. There was something else, near the remains of one of the houses. It was a pit containing four skulls of adult males without any other bones.
According to the study, the 25 decapitated persons also retained their cervical vertebrae. In five cases, cuts were observed on them without signs of scarring. This is proof that “they were inflicted shortly before or shortly after death”. On the other hand, the scientists found no other wounds. No other injuries were found. antemortem evident in the other bones of the postcranial skeleton of all the individuals studied.
Archaeologists suggest that the Honghe settlement was home to a community of fishermen, hunters, and farmers. They competed for resources and clashed with other groups in the region. After these prehistoric skirmishes, the Honghe sometimes returned with trophies. What? The heads of decapitated enemies after death, as evidenced by four male skulls.
Apparently, however, something happened when the adult men were away from the settlement. Another group attacked it, killed many of the remaining women and children, and carried off their heads. Upon returning, the men buried the victims of this massacre. And then they abandoned the settlement for good, the explorers explain. Only the millenary tomb of the decapitated remained there.