The oldest case of decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil)

Strauss, Andre and Oliveira, Rodrigo Elias and Bernardo, Danilo V. and Salazar-Garcia, Domingo C. and Talamo, Sahra and Jaouen, Klervia and Hubbe, Mark and Black, Sue and Wilkinson, Caroline and Richards, Michael Phillip and Araujo, Astolfo G. M. and Kipnis, Renato and Neves, Walter Alves (2015) The oldest case of decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil). PLoS ONE, 10 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

Full text not available from this repository.

Abstract

We present here evidence for an early Holocene case of decapitation in the New World (Burial 26), found in the rock shelter of Lapa do Santo in 2007. Lapa do Santo is an archaeological site located in the Lagoa Santa karst in east-central Brazil with evidence of human occupation dating as far back as 11.7–12.7 cal kyBP (95.4% interval). An ultra-filtered AMS age determination on a fragment of the sphenoid provided an age range of 9.1–9.4 cal kyBP (95.4% interval) for Burial 26. The interment was composed of an articulated cranium, mandible and first six cervical vertebrae. Cut marks with a v-shaped profile were observed in the mandible and sixth cervical vertebra. The right hand was amputated and laid over the left side of the face with distal phalanges pointing to the chin and the left hand was amputated and laid over the right side of the face with distal phalanges pointing to the forehead. Strontium analysis comparing Burial 26’s isotopic signature to other specimens from Lapa do Santo suggests this was a local member of the group. Therefore, we suggest a ritualized decapitation instead of trophy-taking, testifying for the sophistication of mortuary rituals among hunter-gatherers in the Americas during the early Archaic period. In the apparent absence of wealth goods or elaborated architecture, Lapa do Santo’s inhabitants seemed to use the human body to express their cosmological principles regarding death.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
PLoS ONE
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Subjects:
ID Code:
132496
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
08 Apr 2019 14:10
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
09 Sep 2020 05:53