History.com - Stone Age hunter-gatherers in southeast Sweden mounted the skulls of their dead on stakes and buried them in a lake, according to a team of archaeologists. The researchers unearthed remains and artifacts estimated to be 8,000 years old—including the skulls of 11 individuals—at a site thought to have served as a ceremonial gathering place.
Two years ago, archaeologists found what they believed to be a Stone Age settlement near what was once a shallow lake in Motala, a town in southeast Sweden. Conducted to pave the way for a new railway line, the excavation took an unexpected turn when the researchers discovered skulls and skull fragments from 11 individuals, including men, women, children and infants. Recent carbon dating determined that the items unearthed at the site, which is known as Kanaljorden, are roughly 8,000 years old.
“We found that the former lake was the locus for extensive ritual deposits, mainly human skulls but also bones from other parts of the body as well as animal bones and tools made of bone, antler and stone,” said Fredrik Hallgren, head of excavation for the heritage foundation Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård Mälardalen. “The ritual deposits were laid out on a large stone packing [a type of mass grave encased in stone] constructed on the bottom of the lake.”