July 12, 2007
A clay bowl, a skull, and a protruding bone give grim witness to a brutal massacre in the Southwestern U.S. some 800 years ago.
The body was one of seven skeletonsincluding five adults, one child, and an infantdiscovered in a remote New Mexico canyon in 2005.
All of the remains bear signs of "traumatic injuries," archaeologists say, including broken necks, crushed skulls, and cut marks on bones suggesting the blows of an ax.
Pottery and other clues found at the site indicate the victims were members of an obscure culture known as the Gallina, which occupied a small region of northwestern New Mexico around A.D. 1100 (see New Mexico map).
The culture suddenly vanished around 1275, as the last of its members either left the region or were "wiped out," archaeologists say.
The newfound skeletons could provide crucial clues to the people's mysterious disappearance, which some experts think could have been the result of prehistoric genocide.
(Read the full story.)
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Photograph courtesy Tony Largaespada/USFS