Motala, Sweden: Archaeologists digging at the bottom of a former lake in the town of Motala, Sweden have discovered an ancient burial site containing 8,000-year-old human skulls mounted on wooden stakes. They even found a piece of brain tissue inside a skull with a broken stake through it, according to a study published in the journal Antiquity.
The gruesome has left researchers baffled as it the challenges modern “understanding of the handling of the dead during the European Mesolithicera.”
The skulls showed signs of blunt force trauma that was “probably the result of interpersonal violence,” the study read. However, some injuries show signs of healing, meaning that blunt force trauma is not necessarily what killed them.
Some 11 adults, only one of which had a jawbone, were found at the ancient burial site. While it was difficult for researchers to determine their sex, at least three were female and six or seven were males. Interestingly, the injuries differed according to sex. Men tended to have truma on the top or front of their head, while women were injured at the back of their heads. Also unearthed was the entire skeleton of an infant who was likely stillborn or died shortly after birth, the researchers said.
Remains of wooden stakes were recovered from two of the skulls, “indicating that they had been mounted.” One of the stakes had broken. The other was at about 1.5ft (47cm) in length. Astonishingly, a piece of brain tissue was also recovered from the skull impaled with the broken stake. This suggests that the skull was cast into the lake soon after death where it was preserved.
The violent death and treatment of the deceased has left researchers at a loss for explanations. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers are not known for these kind of dramatic displays. One theory is that the bodies were possibly discarded as some sort of ritual.
“The people who were deposited like this in the lake, they weren’t average people,” co-lead researcher Fredrik Hallgren, an archaeologist at the Cultural Heritage Foundation in Västerås, Sweden, told Live Science. “But probably people who, after they died, had been selected to be included in this ritual because of who they were, because of things they experienced in life.”
EARLIER: Egyptian Archaeologists Unearth 4400yo Tomb – Giza, Egypt: Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters during a press conference on Saturday, that Egyptian archaeologists unearthed a well-preserved 4,400-year-old tomb from Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty, a prosperous era where pharaohs ruled, palaces were erected and pyramids were built.
Khaled al-Enany said that the tomb belonged to Hetpet, a priestess to the goddess of fertility Hathor. Female priests were not common in ancient Egypt. Hathor, who also represented music and dance, had a number of them in her priesthood, reports National Geographic.
Khaled al-Enany said that the cemetery where the tomb was found is home to the graves of other official figures from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, which spanned from 2465 BC to 2323 BC.
Hetpet’s name and various titles are engraved inside the tomb, alongside paintings and other artifacts including a purification basin.
The tomb was discovered in Giza’s western cemetery by a team of Egyptian archaeologists at the helm of Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.
“The tomb is in very good condition,” Mostafa Waziri told reporters. “There are colored depictions of traditional scenes: animals grazing, fishing, bird-catching, offerings, sacrifice, soldiers and fruit-gathering.”
The paintings — which Waziri says are unusual — show scenes of music and dance. One scene features two monkeys eating fruit and dancing in front of an orchestra.
“Such scenes are rare … And have only been found previously in the tomb of Ka-Iber, where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist, not an orchestra,” Waziri said.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities has made several discoveries throughout Egypt since the beginning of 2017. The ministry hopes that its recent string of archaeological progress will entice more tourists to visit Egypt.
“This is a very promising area. We expect to find more,” al-Waziri told reporters at the site.
EARLIER: Ancient City That Dates Back To 10th Century Discovered In Eastern Ethiopia – Lead archaeologist Professor Timothy Insoll from the University of Exeter says a team of archaeologists in Ethiopia have discovered an ancient city that dates back to the 10th century in Eastern Ethiopia. Artifacts from Egypt, India and China, as well as jewelry from Madagascar, Maldives, yemen and China were also reportedly found in the lost city in the Harlaa region.
A 12th century mosque that is similar to some that were discovered in Tanzania and Somaliland was also found, providing a connection of the different Islamic communities in Africa.
Lead archaeologist Professor Timothy Insoll from the University of Exeter said.
“This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region,”
Further excavations of the site are expected to be conducted next year.