Objective: Write an imaginative explanation that uses all the available facts!

A head and severed hands buried thousands of years ago and just discovered.
A head and severed hands buried thousands of years ago and just discovered.

Today’s Task:

  • Read the article below (it’s modified from an orginal article on http://www.thehistoryblog.com).
  • Write a sensible but imaginative explanation of this burial in an Evernote Writer’s Notebook note called Severed Head.
  • A good explanation must fit the facts in the article. It should explain why these ancient people removed this person’s head and hands and why they were arranged this way!

THE HISTORY BLOG

Oldest Decapitation in the Americas Found in Brazil
September 27th, 2015

Scientists found a skull and hands in a Brazilian cave in 2007. They are the oldest known instance of decapitation in the Americas.

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Previously, the oldest known decapitation was found at Windover Pond, Florida, and is 8,120–6,990 years old. The oldest South American beheading took place only 3,000 years ago.

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Carbon dating of the Brazilian skull shows that it is 9,100-9,400 years old

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Scientists found the strange burial in Lagoa Santa, Brazil. It was the most recent of 26 bodies buried there. In the grave of Burial 26, scientists found a skull with its jaw and neck bones. Both the right and left hands were placed over the face. The right was placed over the left side of the face, fingers pointing down towards the chin. The left hand was over the right side of the face, fingers pointing up towards the forehead. The dead person was a young adult male.

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Cut marks were found on the jaw, cheekbone, neck and arm. The marks make scientist believe that sharp tools were used to detach the hands and sever the head. The marks on the jaw and cheekbone were probably left while muscle and skin was cut away. Only stone tools would have been available at the time, but stone tools can be as sharp as broken glass.

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People used to think that decapitations were always trophies of war, but Burial 26 is making people rethink that idea. Results of a chemical analysis say that Burial 26 is the remains of a local person, not an enemy soldier from another group.

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The careful arrangement of the head and hands make scientists believe that the decapitation may be related to complex funeral customs. 

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The severed head is not the earliest burial at the Lapa do Santo cave. Some bodies are up to a thousand years older. Bu these early burials were much simpler than Burial 26. These earliest people were simply laid in graves under blocks of limestone. At the time of Burial 26, however, burials involved taking bodies apart, removing flesh and burning.

To download a detailed diagram, click here…

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