Ancient Corpses Ritually Dug Up, Torn Apart, Reburied

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According to the first known evidence of "double burials," ancient people in what is now Mexico routinely dug up decomposing bodies and took off their arms, legs, and heads, then reburied the bodies, new research shows.

Indigenous peoples of the Cape Region of Baja California Sur (see map) 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, anthropologists say.

To the native groups, death was "a motionless, painful state, from which the living could free" the dead by sectioning the limbs, physical anthropologist Alfonso Rosales-Lopez said in an email translated from Spanish."

(See pictures of facedown burials from around the world.)

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....

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