How Did Ancient South American Skulls End Up in a Florida Backyard?

  • Share
  • Read Later
STOCK4B Creative / Getty Images

Skulls found in the catacombs of Paris, France.

Generally, when a plumber finds skulls in your backyard, it’s not a good sign. 

Thankfully for one Floridan family,  the discovery wasn’t a sign of foul play but the start of an 800-year-old mystery.

In early January, two mysterious skulls were unearthed in the backyard of house in Winter Garden, Fla., during the installation of a new pool. To everyone’s astonishment, the bones date back as far as 1200 A.D. and hark from South America.

(MORE: Unearthed Skull Solves 132-Year-Old Murder Mystery)

According to ABC News, authorities were immediately alerted because human tissue was found on one of the skulls. Upon further examination, the cranium – which was believed to come from a young child around the age of 10 – was found to be hundreds of years old, its tissue mummified. The second skull is believed to have come from an adult male.

There’s also another bizarre twist: both skulls were found to have an “Inca bone” — a genetically distinct interparietal bone that indicates their owners were members of the Inca civilization in Peru. Archaeologists and examiners are puzzled over how they ended up in Florida, amidst some dirty pottery shards and a buried newspaper clipping from 1978.

(MORE: Skull Found at Pearl Harbor May Belong to Japanese Pilot)

“Back in the 1930s or 1940s, people would go on vacation and buy things like that, and maybe they buried them when they didn’t want them anymore. Another possibility is that it used to be a migrant farm worker camp, and some cultures will bring part of their heritage with them when they leave. It could be that they were moving on and decided to bury it there,” medical examiner Jan Garavaglia told the television news network.

“The mystery is how they ended up there,” Garavaglia summed up. “We don’t have any way of finding out.”

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

0 comments