Friday, June 08, 2007

Decapitated Man Found in Peru Tomb With Ceramic "Replacement" Head
A headless skeleton found in a Peruvian tomb is adding new wrinkles to the debate over human sacrifice in the ancient Andes.

The decapitated body was found in the Nasca region, named for the ancient civilization that thrived in southern Peru from A.D. 1 to 750.

Known for producing "Nasca lines" in the earth that depict giant figures, the culture is also noted among archaeologists for practicing human sacrifice and displaying modified human heads called trophy heads.

But experts have been divided over whether the heads were taken from enemies in war or from locals offered up for ritual sacrifice.

In 2004 Christina Conlee, an archaeologist at Texas State University, found a rare headless skeleton in a tomb sitting cross-legged with a ceramic "head jar" placed to the left of the body.

I tend to favor this hypothesis:
"One alternative explanation is that this might simply have been someone who had been killed and decapitated in a raid and whose body subsequently was recovered by relatives who gave it a proper burial, with a ceramic vessel replacing his lost head," [John Verano] said.

WHy not include the head with the body if you yourselves have cut it off? We found something sort of similar at Kom el-Hisn (Egypt) where a headless body had a jar placed where the head should have been (though admittedly, the association between the two wasn't reported as slam-dunk direct).