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It turns out skulls are a “crime scene” in Mexico since 900 AD. | News

MECICA CITY. When Mexican police found a pile of about 150 skulls in a cave near the Guatemalan border, they thought they were looking at the crime scene and took the bones to the state capital.

It turned out to be a very cold case.

It took a decade of tests and analysis to determine the skulls of victims killed between 900 and 1,200 AD, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said Wednesday.

“Assuming they inspected the crime scene, investigators collected the bones and began investigating them in Tuxtla Gutierrez,” a statement from the capital’s institute, known as INAH, said.

The police in 2012 were not stupid; the border area around the town of Frontera Kamalapa in southern Chiapas has long suffered from violence and trafficking by immigrants. And pre-Hispanic skull heaps in Mexico usually show holes drilled through each side of each skull, and were usually found in ceremonial squares rather than caves.

But experts said Wednesday that the victims in the cave were probably ritually beheaded and the skulls on display at a sort of trophy stand known as the “compantli”. Spanish conquistadors wrote that they saw such racks in the 1520s, and even the heads of some Spaniards fell on them.

While they are usually strung on wooden poles with holes drilled in them – a common practice of the Aztecs and other cultures – experts say that cave skulls could lie on poles rather than strung on them.

Interestingly, there were more women than men among the victims, and none of them had teeth.

In light of the cave’s experience, archaeologist Javier Montes de Paz said people should probably call archaeologists, not police.

“If people find something that may be in an archaeological context, don’t touch it and report it to local authorities or directly to INAH,” he said.

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