An excavation at the site of an ancient Maya city in Mexico has yielded a gruesome find: the remains of dismembered, decapitated bodies. The discovery provides new archaeological evidence for the violent scenes depicted in Maya art, the researchers say.
Nicolaus Seefeld, an archaeologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, stumbled across the 1,400-year-old mass grave as part of his work on the water system in the city of Uxul. The remains of 24 people were found in an approximately 344-square-foot (32 square meters) artificial cave that served as a water storage reservoir.
"Right before 24 victims were buried, the cave’s interior had doubtlessly still been used [as] a water reservoir, since the cave’s floor was perfectly clean," Seefeld told LiveScience in an email. "After the 24 victims had been buried, the pre-Hispanic Maya covered the remains with a coarse layer of gravel and sealed it with a clay layer. Due to this sealing layer, the documented bones were found in an extraordinarily good state of preservation."