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After more than two years of expeditions and almost six years of research, a group of archaeologists solved the puzzle of a 5,3-year-old skull that appeared inside a remote cave in northern Italy.

It was discovered that the fossil belongs to a woman about 30 years old, and that she was the victim of beheading. Experts believe that head it was cut and part of the skull flesh removed during a death ritual. However, it is not known whether the practice involved cannibalism.

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The skull was in the depths of a chain of caves in a rocky ensemble known as Marcel Loubens. The research results were published in the last edition from the collaborative scientific magazine Plos One.

According to them, the fossil was originally found in 2015, but the researchers were only able to trace the Details about it now. This was because the skull was no less than 38 meters deep.

Skull fell into the cave by accident?

Scientist descends 38 meter cave
Scientist descends 38 meter cave. Credit: Public Library of Science

To get to the skull, the researchers took about two years to descend to the bottom of the cave using climbing instruments. However, chance could have contributed to the researchers having less work to reach the fossil.

According to Maria Giovanna Belcastro, an archaeologist at the University of Bologna, the skull ended up there by chance after falling into the cave during the ritual of removing the flesh from the skull. "The accidental nature of the event is confirmed by some post-mortem injuries to the skull," he said. 

The removal of meat from the dead was relatively common among Neanderthals. In addition to beheading, the fossil also showed evidence that the corpse was manipulated, she said, to remove other soft tissues.

Street: UOL

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