September 24, 2015
Earliest Decapitation in the Americas Found in Brazil
Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of ritual decapitation in the Americas at a 9,000 year old site in Brazil. Decapitation of enemies is a common practice in the ancient Americas. The oldest ritual beheading in South America until this discovery was 3,000 years ago in Peru. And the oldest in North America was in Florida, 6,000-8,000 years ago. The Brazilian site is called Lapa do Santo in a tropical region of Brazil. This is the same site where the oldest evidence of rock art in South America was found, dating to 9,400 years ago. Humans occupied this site from 12,000 years ago. The ritual decapitation was discovered in 2007, and is only now being published in the peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE. The person decapitated had his hands amputated and laid palm side down on the face of the skull. The left hand was pointed upward covering one side of the face, and the left hand pointed downward covering the other side of the face. Analysis of the bones indicates the person was from the group that lived there, so the decapitation may have been a ritual burial rite.
Live Science has the report here;
And they have posted a separate page of photographs from the site;