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Ancient Remains of Infants Wearing “Helmets” Found in Ecuador

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ecuador Infant SkullCHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—Sara Juengst of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and her colleagues discovered the remains of two infants who had been buried some 2,100 years ago wearing “helmets” crafted from the crania of other children, according to a Live Science report. The infants’ remains, discovered with nine other burials in central Ecuador, were interred not long after a volcanic eruption had covered the region in ash. Lesions on the bones indicate the infants and children had all suffered from stress, perhaps brought on by malnutrition. A human hand bone was found between the head of one of the infants and its “helmet.” The researchers plan to extract and analyze DNA and strontium isotopes from the bones to try to determine if the hand bone belonged to any of the infants or children. Stone figurines thought to depict ancestors were also found in the burials, leading the researchers to speculate that the “helmets” may have been intended to offer the infants protection and empowerment. More study is necessary to determine if the burials were part of a ritual response to the environmental impact of the eruption, the researchers explained. To read about the use of cacao seeds more than 5,000 years ago in southeastern Ecuador, go to "Ancient Amazonian Chocolatiers." 

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