Recently found in Brazil: A 9,000-year-old skull posed with severed hands covering its eyes, one hand pointing up, one pointing down.
The head was decapitated, making it by far the oldest known case of decapitation (the next oldest was from 3,000 years ago).
As the National Geographic article says, “[H]ow did these people, who were hunter-gatherers living in a simple society with few tools (certainly no machetes) get the head off?” (Short, shudder-inducing answer: manual twisting was involved.)
Forensic examination suggests that the skull was not displayed as a trophy, and that it most likely belonged to a member of the tribe (not an outsider or hostile enemy)…leaving the final question: Why was this person dismembered, and the bones left in this arrangement?
We will likely never know.