Washington, March 11(ANI): The first known evidence of "double burials" has revealed that ancient people in what is now Mexico, routinely dug up decomposing bodies and took off their arms, legs, and heads, then reburied the bodies, for about 4,500 years.
According to a report in National Geographic News, indigenous peoples of the Cape Region of Baja California Sur in Mexico, practiced these double burials for about 4,500 years, from about 300 B.C. to the 16th-century A.D, when Europeans first arrived in the region.
To the native groups, death was "a motionless, painful state, from which the living could free" the dead by sectioning the limbs, according to physical anthropologist Alfonso Rosales-Lopez.
The double-burial practice, he added, is consistent with beliefs in other cultures around the world that death isn't the end of life, but rather a passing from one state to another.
Since 1991, Rosales-Lopez has examined more than a hundred of the double burials along the southern coast of Baja California and is currently working on a paper describing the practice.
Immediately after death, candidates for double burial were shrouded in animal skins and bound tightly in the fetal position with cords made from agave plants, the same succulents used in tequila production.
Each corpse was then placed in an individual shallow grave lined with seashells, charcoal, and soil.
"It would appear this would end the funeral, but the abundance of sectioned remains clearly shows this is not the case-rather, it was only the first part," said Rosalez-Lopez, of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.
About six to eight months after a first burial, a body would be exhumed.
At this point, the corpse would have decomposed enough that the limbs and head could be easily broken off, Rosalez-Lopez noted.
Once separated, the dismembered parts were placed near the body and reburied.
Near the burial sites, Rosalez-Lopez and colleagues also found stone tools-such as projectile heads, knives, and fishing harpoons-that would have been used to kill and prepare food.
Food remains including shells of mollusks, seeds, and plants were also discovered.
Double burials appear unique to the Cape Region, according to Don Laylander, senior archaeologist with the archaeological consulting firm ASM Affiliates. (ANI)