The Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil)
André Strauss , Rodrigo Elias Oliveira, Danilo V. Bernardo, Domingo C. Salazar-García, Sahra Talamo, Klervia Jaouen, Mark Hubbe, Sue Black, Caroline Wilkinson, Michael Phillip Richards, Astolfo G. M. Araujo, Renato Kipnis, Walter Alves Neves
Published: September 23, 2015
Source/Fonte: Danilo Bernardo, PLoS One
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.
Citation: Strauss A, Oliveira RE, Bernardo DV, Salazar-García DC, Talamo S, Jaouen K, et al. (2015) The Oldest Case of Decapitation in the New World (Lapa do Santo, East-Central Brazil). PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137456. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137456
Editor: John P. Hart, New York State Museum, UNITED STATES
Received: April 21, 2015; Accepted: August 17, 2015; Published: September 23, 2015
Copyright: © 2015 Strauss et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.
Funding: The excavation of Lapa do Santo was significantly funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) through two research grants obtained by WN (99/0670-7 and 04/01321-6). FAPESP also provided a post-doctoral fellowship to RK (01/06881-1), PhD scholarship (08/58729-8 to DVB), and a MSc scholarship (08/51747-0 to AS). The Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) WAN with a productivity grant (300818/2007-6). The Max Planck Society provided a PhD scholarship for AS. DCSG acknowledges the Generalitat Valenciana (VALi+d APOSTD/2014/123) and the European Union (FP7/2007-2013 - MSCA-COFUND, n°245743) through a Braudel-IFER-FMSH in collaboration with the LAMPEA lab at the Université d'Aix-Marseille. RK is currently employed in a commercial company that provided support only in the form of salaries, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section”.
Competing interests: The authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: Author Renato Kipnis is employed by Scientia Consultoria Científica Ltda. There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. This does not alter their adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
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