Children’s skulls found at the edges of Bronze Age settlements may have been a gruesome gift for the local lake gods.
The children’s skulls were discovered encircling the perimeter of ancient villages around lakes in Switzerland and Germany. Some had suffered ax blows and other head traumas.
Though the children probably weren’t human sacrifices killed to appease the gods, they may have been offered after death as gifts to ward off flooding, said study co-author Benjamin Jennings, an archaeologist at Basel University in Switzerland. Read more.
Neandertals came into the world face first. Or at least, their lineage did, according to Spanish paleoanthropologists who analyzed 17 ancient skulls from a deep bone pit in the Atapuerca Mountains of northern Spain. The facial bones and teeth of these people, who lived 430,000 years ago, already resemble those of Neandertals, which are known from much younger fossils.
Yet the Sima people also still had relatively small brains and other primitive features, suggesting they were very early members of the lineage that eventually gave rise to Neandertals. The analysis offers a detailed look at the murky origins of our closest cousins and has implications for the evolution of key traits such as brain size. Read more.
Archaeologists excavating Ohio Hopewell mounds occasionally come across the remains of people who had been buried with separate human skulls. Hopewell artisans also sculpted representations of decapitated heads and headless human torsos.
Does this mean Ohio’s ancient American Indians were headhunters?
Mark Seeman, professor emeritus at Kent State University, says that these decapitated heads were battle trophies. But Timothy Lloyd, an archaeologist at the University of Albany, points out that some of the bodies and skulls belonged to women, who seldom were warriors in indigenous societies. Read more.
A trove of skulls and other body parts unearthed in the heart of London may have once belonged to Roman gladiators, war captives or criminals, a new study suggests.
The remains, described in the January issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, belonged to about 40 men, mostly ages 25 to 35, and were marred by violence: cheek fractures, blunt-force trauma to the head, decapitation and injuries from sharp weapons, said study co-author Rebecca Redfern, a curator and bioarchaeologist at the Museum of London. Read more.
HONOLULU (AP) — The skulls of a Native Hawaiian man and woman are being returned to their home state after being in Texas for more than 50 years.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says the remains were taken by a U.S. Air Force airman after being found near or on a beach between 1940 and 1960.
The skulls are in the possession of the University of Texas at San Antonio. They are, however, expected to be sent to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for reburial on Oahu.
UTSA archaeologist Cynthia Munoz says the airman apparently took the skulls to his home in San Antonio.
After the man died, the remains were found in a box in the garage by the man’s son, who donated them to the university’s Center for Archaeological Research last year. (source)
Archaeologists in China have unearthed the skulls of more than 80 young women who may have been sacrificed more than 4,000 years ago, state media reported on Monday.
The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi.
The women’s bodies were not present, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that archaeologists concluded that the skulls were “likely to be related china to the construction of the city wall” in “ancient religious activities or foundation ceremonies” before construction began. Read more.
Archaeologists working with London’s Crossrail project have uncovered 20 skulls believed to be from the Roman period.
It is likely the bones were washed from a nearby burial site along one of London’s “lost” rivers - the Walbrook.
In the last year archaeologists in London have also found about 10,000 Roman items at a nearby site.
These latest finds could give new insights into the lives of Roman people.
Near-intact pottery artefacts were also found which probably travelled along the same route as the skulls. Other bone fragments would not have been washed as easily down the river. Read more.
Three sets of old human remains have been found inside Londonderry’s historic walls.
The remains were unearthed at an archaeological dig at Bishop Street car park, near St Augustine’s cemetery on Friday.
The remains may have been there since the 17th Century, according to researchers.
Archaeologist Emily Murray said: “Below bulks of mud, I came across skulls.”
She added: “You can actually see the seams in the cranium.
"The big question is who the people are and how they died. Read more.