Earliest Gunshot Victim in New World Is Reported

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Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the human skeleton of what they conclude is the earliest known gunshot victim in the New World.

Digging in an Inca cemetery in the suburbs of Lima, they came on well-preserved remains of an individual with holes less than an inch in diameter in the back and front of the skull. Forensic scientists in Connecticut said the position of the round holes and some minuscule iron particles showed that the person most likely was shot and killed by a Spanish musket ball.

Ceramics and other artifacts in the 72 examined graves established the approximate time of the burials, archaeologists said, and this indicated that these were casualties of combat between Inca warriors and Spanish invaders, who seized the Andean empire in 1532. Spanish chronicles describe a pitched battle, a last stand of the Incas that was fought in the vicinity in 1536.

Conquistadors were equipped with some of the first effective firearms, which had been developed recently in Europe, military historians say.

The National Geographic Society announced yesterday the discovery of the gunshot victim by the independent Peruvian archaeologists Guillermo Cock and Elena Goycochea, who have conducted research at the Puruchuco cemetery for years. A NOVA-National Geographic television program on the research is scheduled for next Tuesday...

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