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Decapitation of Humans and Anthropomorphic Figurines in the Kura-Araks Culture from Armenia

Anahit Yu. Khudaverdyan

Abstract

Anthropologists have always been interested in ritualistic behaviors and cultural practices of our ancestors, including the people of the Early Bronze Age from Armenia. In this article we present the analysis of human skeletons at Landjik site in northern Armenia during the period of the Early Bronze Age. During the 1996 excavation of the Landjik site on the Shirak Plateau, a burial site with the skeletal remains of 8 adults and 2 infants was found. In 1996, a study of the remains was initiated at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Science, Republic of Armenia (Khudaverdyan, 1996). A more detailed study of the remains revealed the presence of cutmarks on bones of three of the adults. Distinct cut marks on the occipital bone suggest decapitation of the living individual. Also, headless figurines from the Early Bronze Age, found on the territory of the Armenian highlands, hint at this practice of head removal.

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