June 19, 2007—
A nearly 500-year-old skull sports the telltale signs of a gunshot wound from an antique firearm.
The find, discovered recently in an Inca cemetery near Lima, Peru, was the victim of a Spanish musket, according to a detailed analysis. That makes the skeleton the oldest documented gunshot victim in the New World and possibly the first person in the Americas ever to have been killed with a firearm, experts say.
National Geographic grantee Guillermo Cock led the team that uncovered the remains. It is one of 72 skeletons hastily buried at the site without the usual Inca reverence for death. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)
"We thought it was a person killed recently—5, 10, or 20 years ago," Cock told National Geographic News. "We didn't expect the individual would have been killed by a bullet 500 years ago."
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Photo by Elena Goycochea ) 2007National Geographic/Puruchuco-Huaquerones Archaeological Project