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Thursday, June 9, 2016

These Ancient Headless Corpses Were Defleshed By Griffon Vultures

By placing the deceased on the rooftops of the houses, the people of Çatalhöyük would have made the bodies immediately attractive to the griffon vulture and would have kept the bodies away from terrestrial carnivores. The vultures would have eaten the muscles and left the tendons, allowing the people of Çatalhöyük to wrap the corpse in a tight bundle and then bury the deceased underneath the house floor.
The most likely explanation, then, for these headless burials “based on current forensic experimental work, [is] that the people of Çatalhöyük may have employed vulture excarnation prior to interment,” the archaeologists conclude in their publication.  
While defleshing by carrion birds is not uncommon — a similar form known as “sky burial” has long been practiced in parts of China, Tibet, Nepal, India, and Mongolia — this potential evidence of vulture excarnation from Çatalhöyük makes the site one of the earliest in the world known to engage in this burial practice.


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