At first it seemed like a discovery with sinister implications: two skulls were unearthed by a swimming pool contractor in the neighborhood of Winter garden. Now the human remains have become an archaeological mystery.
Skulls, a dozen pottery and textile shards, were discovered in the sand in January, allowing a team of anthropologists and archaeologists to begin to find out from where they come the remains.
- Winter Garden Skulls
Experts have learned a lot about the objects since they were found, but one key question remains: How did they get there? “It's definitely a second burial place”Says Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia.
Pieces of newspaper strips in english, which date from March 16, 1978, were found alongside the objects and added to the mystery.
“We know that they were not in this place until that date”Says Dr. John Schultz, a professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida who helped Garavaglia with the remains. Garavaglia and Schultz examined the skulls a day after they were discovered and knew almost immediately that They were not forensic remains, but something much older.
They contacted the Florida Archaeological Research Bureau to obtain permission to save the remains for a study.
The bones offer clues to their origin. An extra bone present behind one of the skulls is known as the 'Inca bone '. The smaller skull had chunks of mummified tissue adhered. Both pieces point to South America.
After using X-rays, Schultz and Garavaglia determined that the skulls belong to a older man and a child about 10 years old. The fabrics (an intricate woven purse, a sling, and a carrying bag) and ceramics agree with the chancay culture of the coast of Peru and they date from between 1200 and 1470 ADsays Schultz.
A discovery like this is uniquesays Dr. Daniel Seinfield with the Archaeological Research Bureau. "These bones are clearly not from Florida" Y are not related to the native peoples of the areasays Seinfield. "They were placed here by modern people acquired them somehow”.
International antiquities laws have been in place in several countries since early 1900, but the UNESCO Convention on Measures to Prohibit the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Property of Cultural Property has made illegal to buy and transport human remains and objects since 1970.
Before this, tourists took human remains and objects such as vacation souvenirs from other countries. "People used to collect these objects as curios”Says Seinfield. "Today it is highly illegal and unethical”.
The patch of land where the bones were found was known as Harlem Heights, an ancient orange field with a migrant worker camp. After the course of three decades, thousands of white, black, Mexican, Jamaican, Dominican and Haitian pickers they came to live in town of wooden barracks that once stood there. The area was abandoned in the mid 80's and later sold to promoters.
The authorities initially thought that the objects could have been used as part of a religious or spiritual ritual or even buried by immigrant workers who brought their ancestral remains to Central Florida.
For now, the remains and objects will be in the Orange-Osceola Office of Forensic Medicine where Schultz plans conduct a scientific study to be used in the future as a teaching aid.
Ultimately, Seinfield recommends that they try to return the objects to Peru. Until then, Garavaglia says: “We will treat them with dignity”.
With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.