Researchers made the discovery while excavating the Moral-Reforma archaeological site near Tabasco, Mexico, and they believe the tombs date to between 600 and 900 BC.
Hundreds of years ago, two young men in what is now Mexico were beheaded and buried at the foot of a Mayan pyramid. Their remains – and those of other young men who may have also been sacrificial victims – were recently discovered by archaeologists excavating the Moral-Reforma archaeological site in the Mexican state of Tabasco.
According to a statement from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), 13 sets of remains were discovered a few blocks from “Structure 18” – a pyramid-shaped monument south of the site’s main temple – only 40 feet (more than 12 meters). Archaeologists found the bones buried about 1 foot (0.3 meter) deep and began to determine who they belonged to and what happened to them.
Archaeologists have found 13 mysterious skulls, at least two of which are definitely victims of ritual sacrifice. Photo: Allthatsinteresting
As reported by Live Science , the Mayans were known to sacrifice prisoners of war, but it is unknown whether these newly discovered skulls actually belonged to prisoners of war. But what we can know for certain is that they were all between 17 and 35 years old and appear to have been buried between 600 and 900 BC.
And two of the skulls bore clear marks of violence.
Perhaps the most common of the strange skulls ever discovered by humans are elongated skulls. Current science believes that such deformed skull shape is due to an old custom of the aborigines, who squeezed the heads of newborn babies to the point that they were deformed. Photo: Allthatsinteresting
As INAH explains, “transverse cuts were observed on the bone shaft associated with the craniocervical junction.” Miriam Angélica Camacho Martínez, a physical anthropologist from the INAH Center, further explains that these marks on the bones seem to suggest “the use of a sharp object to remove the skull, and we know what This is because the neck and mandible still maintain their anatomical relationship, however it is difficult to determine whether this wound was the cause of death or if it was done after the people had already died. ”.
Archaeologists also determined that the five skulls had an unusually long shape, seemingly having been intentionally elongated from an early age. As Live Science reports , this purposeful deformation was practiced by the Mayans, as well as other ancient civilizations in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Researchers believe that elongation of the skull may be associated with higher social status.
On the other hand, examination of the remains also revealed that some of the men had tooth decay, possibly due to their corn-heavy diet, and that some of the bones were covered with red pigment.
Pyramid at the Moral-Reforma archaeological site near Tabasco, Mexico. Photo: Allthatsinteresting
The remains of these 13 men provide a fascinating glimpse into life and death at Moral-Reforma, once an important Mayan settlement. As Heritage Daily reports , the city began as an important trading post around 300 BC and grew from there. Between 622 and 756 BC, settlement reached its peak and spanned an impressive 215 acres, where the Maya built palaces, plazas, and pyramids. They finally abandoned the city around 1000 BC.
However, there is still much that archaeologists do not know about this site, including its original name. Live Science reports that it was allied with other Maya cities, including Calakmul and Palenque, and that the Maya built as many as 76 structures there. However, many archaeologists believe that the men buried at the foot of “Structure 18” may have been sacrificed to appease an underworld god, but it is unknown where this pyramid was built. Built to honor any Mayan god.
As archaeologists continue to explore the site, they hope to uncover more answers. Until then, researchers will have to look for clues in the bones and teeth of men sacrificed at the pyramid hundreds of years ago.
Current science suggests that the persistent deformity of the skull is due to an old custom among the aborigines, who squeezed the heads of newborn babies so tightly that they became deformed. But why this phenomenon seems to occur all over the world, in unrelated cultures, remains unexplained.
In fact, these discovered skulls are sometimes almost twice the size of normal human skulls. Many of these skulls also lack some of the ridges that a normal human possesses including the frontal sulcus and sagittal sulcus. However, they have an additional groove, running diagonally across the forehead. The bones of these skulls are often much thicker and stronger than our bones.
In Egypt, people not only found elongated skulls, but also decorations and wall carvings of people with long heads in significant numbers, many traces of which they all originated. from the era of the pharaohs. Egyptologists consider these to be stylistic depictions of royal headdresses by common people. But unusually long skulls have also been found in mummies, such as that of King Tutankhamun – which is unusually long compared to others.