Category Archives: ECUADOR

Infants from 2100 years ago found with helmets made of children’s skulls

Infants from 2100 years ago found with helmets made of children’s skulls

According to the new study, two babies from ancient South American burial mounds have been discovered wearing helmets made from the skulls of other infants.

Skulls and other objects excavated at burial sites on the coast of Ecuador.

As researchers tell in their report published earlier this month in the science journal, Latin American Antiquity, this is the first recorded evidence of ancient people using children’s skulls as burial headgear anywhere in the world.

Excavations on Ecuador’s coast from 2014 to 2016 discovered the bodies of 11 people in ancient burial mounds, including two adults, one young person, and four infants. Around the burials, small artefacts and shells were discovered.

But it was two of the infants wearing skull “helmets” found in two burial mounds dated to approximately 100 BC that really grabbed attention.

The research — led by University of North Carolina at Charlotte assistant professor Sara Juengst — found that one baby was 18 months old at the time of death, and was wearing parts of the skull of another child aged between four and 12 years old.

The skull was placed in a “helmet-like fashion around the head of the first, such that the primary individual’s face looked through,” the researchers said. A small shell and a child’s finger bone was found between the skull “helmet” and the infant’s head.

Items found during excavations of ancient burial sites on the coast of Ecuador.

The other infant was aged between six and nine months old and was wearing skull fragments of a child aged between two and 12 years old.

Researchers said the skull “helmets” likely still had flesh on them when they were put on the infants’ heads, as children’s skulls often don’t hold together.

The story behind the skull ‘helmets’

In the study, researchers acknowledged that there were a number of questions remaining. They did not know whose skulls had been turned into “helmets” — or why two babies were wearing “helmets” while others were not.

But the researchers noted that detached heads were “symbolically important” in South America, and dead children were often given special treatment in death.

“The human head was a potent symbol for many South American cultures,” the study found.

The researchers speculated that the skull “helmets” could have been an attempt to protect the babies’ souls — a theory that they said was given weight by the figurines found around the burial site.

The area had been hit by volcanic ashfall before the burial, the study said.

“A tantalizing hypothesis is that this bodily stress is related to the volcanic ash fall that preceded these burials, and that the treatment of the two infants was part of a larger, complex ritual response to environmental consequences of the eruption,” the researchers said. “More evidence is needed to confirm this.”

The researchers also noted that there was no evidence of the tomb being reopened or manipulated after the initial burial.

Previous studies have uncovered details of burial rites of ancient civilizations of South America.

Earlier this year, archaeologists in Peru found the remains of around 250 children sacrificed by the pre-Colombian Chimu civilization.

Fossil of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago in Ecuador found

Fossil of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago in Ecuador found

Argentinian and Ecuadorian researchers have found the fossilized remains of an owl that preyed on its smaller relatives.

An owl unlike anything seen today, which roamed on the continent of South America 40,000 years ago, has been described as a “biological rarity” due to its taste for ‘cannibalism’.

Speaking to a scientific agency at the Universidad Nacional de La Matanza in Argentina, researchers said the fossilized remains of the creature were found in the Ecuadorian Andes, 2,800 meters above sea level.

The first of its kind discovered in South America, the owl was more than 80cm high and had a wingspan of more than 1.5 meters.

According to Argentinian researcher Gastón Lo Coco, the creature’s legs were “long and thin, effective in capturing prey that is difficult to subdue”.

Fossilized bones of birds, and in particular smaller owls, were found around the owl’s remains.

“By finding the remains of the animals that had been the last meals of the Asio ecuadoriensis, we were able to know that, among mammals and birds, it consumed especially other types of owls, which shows us that this giant owl was practically what could be called a cannibal owl,” said Dr. Federico Agnolin, co-author of a study published to the Journal of Ornithology.

Size comparison between Asio ecuadoriensis and a human (left) and the preserved material of the ancient owl species (right).

A rare find

A total of four species of the owl were found in the cave, including three species that exist today and the so-called cannibal owl.

Fossilized remains in the same area were hardened by volcanic ash between 20,000 and 42,000 years ago, corresponding to the late Pleistocene era.

The researchers said that the discovery of fossilized birds is a rarity as their bones are hollow and brittle. When this recently discovered owl was alive, the area would have been a wasteland.

Until about 10,000 years ago, huge mammals such as glyptodonts, giant sloths, mastodons and saber-toothed tigers lived throughout South America.

Researchers said that the changing climate in this era possibly played a part in the owl’s extinction.

“We think that the climate change that occurred about 10,000 years ago, when the Ice Age ended, was partly responsible for the extinction of these large predatory birds of which they remain in currently very few species, such as the great eagles of the forests and the Andean condors,” Agnolin said.

A trove of 5,000-year-old artifacts returns to Ecuador

A trove of 5,000-year-old artifacts returns to Ecuador

Almost 40 years after the objects were moved to Canada for research, a series of artifacts from one of the most ancient settled civilizations in America was returned to Ecuador.

Although historical artifacts and art treasures have become fairly common in their places of origin, the current case is special because the objects were accompanied by media containing everything the scholars in Canada learned about them over the course of four decades.

The documents, pottery, gems and sculptures belonged to Valdivia Culture, which flourished between 3800 and 1500 BC in present-day Ecuador.

Besides the artifacts, the 166 crates that arrived on June 5 at San Francisco de Quito University in the Ecuadorian capital held five human skeletons.

The project began during an era when “there was not much in the way of technical-legal norms” regarding the shipment abroad of archaeological goods, Joaquin Moscoso, director of Ecuador’s National Institute of Cultural Patrimony, told EFE.

In 1982, he said, thousands of Valdivia items were taken to Canada from a dig in the southwestern coastal province of Santa Elena.

Their return to Ecuador came at the initiative of James Scott Raymond, professor of archaeology at the University of Calgary.

“They didn’t just return objects and fragments, but all of the scientific information,” Moscoso said, crediting Raymond and his team for carrying out one of the most “solid and interesting” studies of the Valdivia Culture, which was uncovered in the mid-1950s.

The work done in Canada on the Santa Elena artifacts led scholars to change some of their views on the development of settled cultures in the Americas, according to Florencio Delgado, head of the Quito’s university’s Archaeology Institute.

“Until this study, it was thought that the first populations in the New World who made ceramics were on the seacoast,” he said. “Now we know that the first ceramicists were farmers and they lived inland.”

The more than 10,000 items and fragments in the shipment from Canada include examples “of the oldest ceramics that have been found so far” on the western side of the Pacific Ocean, Delgado said.

While the abundance of feminine ceramic figures, known collectively as the “Venus of Valdivia,” has led some researchers to speculate that the Valdivia Culture was a matriarchal society.

“There are also human remains and now that it’s easier to do DNA (tests), the collection is ready for those scholars who are seeking to understand processes of settlement,” Delgado said.

Looking forward, he expressed the hope that the repatriation of the Valdivia collection from Canada will spur an effort to compile an inventory of Ecuadorian artifacts taken abroad for study.

Ideally, such an inventory would include information on the condition of the items, whether they are under active study, and if it makes sense to request their repatriation.

“There are times it’s better that they stay where they are because they are being investigated and they are being protected. And frequently, we can’t do that,” Delgado said.

Ecuador Expose the Skeletons of an Ancient Race of Giant Humans – 7 Times Bigger Than Modern Humans

Ecuador Expose the Skeletons of an Ancient Race of Giant Humans – 7 Times Bigger Than Modern Humans

According to a research team led by British anthropologist Russell Dement, strikingly tall skeletons uncovered in the Amazon region of Ecuador and Peru are undergoing examination in Germany. Will these remains prove that a race of tall people existed deep in the Amazon rainforest hundreds of years ago?

A half dozen human skeletons from the early 1400s to mid-1500s were confirmed to have been discovered, varying from 7 feet and 8 feet (213 to 243 centimeters) in height.

Dement told Cuenca Highlife: “We are very early in our research and I am only able to provide a general overview of what we have found. I don’t want to make claims based on speculation since our work is ongoing. Because of the size of the skeletons, this has both anthropological and medical implications.” 

In this culture, they did not know how to treat erectile dysfunction and many other diseases.

A file photo of a skeleton. 

In late 2013, Dement received word that a skeleton had been uncovered by a Shuar local, approximately 70 miles (112 kilometers) from Cuenca, in Loja Province, Ecuador. Dement traveled to the site and recovered the rib cage and skull of a female which had been exposed by flooding.

The bones were thought to date to 600 years ago. The rest of the skeleton was located and, once assembled, reportedly measured 7 feet and 4 inches (223.5 centimeters) in height.

This prompted the formation of a research team including four researchers from Freie Universität in Germany, and the assistance of Shuar locals. Funding was provided by the university for excavation and investigation.

Because of the sensational nature of this, we have to be extremely diligent in our research.

Recognizing it is a controversial area of research, Dement noted “Even though I had been working with Freie for many years, I was concerned that they might not give a grant for someone looking for giants. To outsiders, especially scientists, I understand this sounds a little hair-brained.

“Because of the sensational nature of this, we have to be extremely diligent in our research since it will be met with a great deal of skepticism,” he said.

Three complete skeletons and two partial skeletons had no disfiguration and they were relatively healthy.

Dement told Cuenca Highlife: “The skeletons show no signs of diseases such as the hormonal growth problems that are common in most cases of gigantism.

In all the skeletons, the joints seemed healthy and the lung cavity appeared large. One of the skeletons that we have dated was of a female who was about 60 when she died, much older than typical cases of gigantism.” 

The burials were elaborate. Bodies were wrapped in leaves and buried in thick clay. This sealed the skeletons and protected against water intrusion, leaving the remains in fairly good condition.

Legends Come to Life

Carlos Miguel Vaca Alvarado, of the parish of the town of Changaiminas, Ecuador, was all his life interested in archaeology, and this motivated him to discover a group of numerous giant human skeletons.

The bones were about 7 meters high and have been discovered in the mountains of the Amazon area. The seven fragments of the skeleton were carefully analyzed by many experts who reached the conclusion that those bones were part of a human skeleton seven times bigger than a modern human being.

Legends say that this region was known as the “cemetery of the gods”, sine in ancient times this region was inhabited by giants. Many experts affirm that this place is the lost city of the giants since many pyramids were discovered there, and their size reached 80 meters high and 80 meters wide.

Moreover, around those pyramids were found numerous objects which were found there which probably were used for mining. Experts believe that this place belonged to an unknown mysterious pre-Inca culture.