Washington, July 3 : An archaeological dig in northeastern Syria has pointed to a bizarre sacrificial ceremony, with the revelation of the remains of man, who may have been an acrobat at around 2300 B.C., along with remains of several rare horse-like animals.
According to a report by Discovery News, gory evidence of the entertainer's death, along with the remains of several rare horse-like animals, which appear to have been sacrificed as well, was found in the remains of a building at a site called Tell Brak, which was once the ancient city of Nagar.
The findings suggest that some ancient cultures may have sacrificed well-known public figures, as well as animals of great personal and monetary worth.
Joan Oates, from Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, who is also the lead author of the paper, and her colleagues were struck by the arrangement of three human bodies in the reception and main office portion of the ancient building.
They describe the skeletal layout as "unusual, indeed strange."
One skeleton belonged to the acrobat, while another could have been the driver of a cart pulled by the animals. The third individual remains unidentified.
"It's the skeletons of the humans that are strange because they were not 'buried' in the usual sense of below ground level, and the heads were missing," said Oates.
"They were simply lying on a surface, on which the outline of the body itself was still visible - that is, they were not buried, but the room was rapidly filled in after their deposition," she added.
Fine silver jewelry, the remains of a dog along with its water bowl, and other animal remains were also found in the building.
The researchers believe that the acrobat was an entertainer known as a hub, or hub ki, words associated with the idea of "always jumping about." Ancient seals depict such individuals with spiky hair and performing contortionist-type tricks.
Oates and her colleagues identified the person as being such an ancient acrobat because his or her knee, tibia, arm and foot bones indicate the person was physically active, having executed jumps and turns "in a very disciplined way with feet pointed downwards during leaps, much as can be seen in some modern dancers."
The scientists compared the skeleton with the anatomy of a modern dancer and found direct similarities.
According to scientists, it's likely that the acrobat participated in some kind of ritualistic performance that culminated in his or her own death by beheading.
Aside from bringing this dramatic moment of early history back to life, the findings could reveal information about culture in what may have been the world's oldest city.