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Skeleton Unearthed in China May Have Lost Foot to Amputation

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

BEIJING, CHINA—According to a Live Science report, archaeologist Li Nan of Peking University and her colleagues examined a 3,000-year-old skeleton missing its right foot that was unearthed at the Zhouyuan site in northwestern China’s Shaanxi Province in 1999. The skeleton was found in a burial with a few shells and was likely buried by family members. Careful examination of the ends of the bones revealed rough edges, unlike those usually found in surgical removals, and no signs of disease. Signs of growth on the bones indicate that the foot was removed, Li said, about five years before the woman died sometime between the ages of 30 and 35. The researchers think the foot may have been removed as a punishment for slaves known as yue, rather than in an accident or war injury. Historical records show that the yue was inflicted as punishment for some 500 different offenses, including rebelling, cheating, stealing, and climbing over certain gates, until it was abolished in the second century B.C., Li added. “We have no clue what kind of crime she committed,” she concluded. To read about 2,000-year-old bronze mirrors unearthed in a cemetery outside Xi'an, go to "Mirror, Mirror." 

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