NewScientist reports that an extremely unusual collection of ancient skulls with violently crushed faces has been discovered in Syria.
Evidence suggests that the Stone Age heads were originally buried with their bodies intact, but then after several years they were dug up and their skulls were crushed and separated from the rest of the skeleton. No one knows why the face-smashing and careful removal of the heads took place.
Stuart Campbell of the University of Manchester offers this possible explanation:
“The post-mortem violence may suggest that the recently dead were seen as carrying a particular threat. Destroying their facial structures may have been a way of destroying the individuals’ identities.”
Other experts suggest that the dismembering may have been an act of revenge against the recently dead, or that the skulls might have been brought together in order to spiritually interact with the living.
Of course, an ancient people trying to protect themselves from bodies coming back from the dead to eat the living would also explain this type of behavior.