An archaeologist strolling along a beach in Baja California Sur has stumbled upon two skeletons whose remains shed new light on ancient burial rituals from Mexico.
"The discovery occurred when the expert from the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine Sciences of the IPN, Ignacio Leyva Valencia, conducted red tide studies, and when crossing the intertidal zone, a human skull was discovered," the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) said in a statement.
Conchalito Beach, where the pair were found, is an archaeological treasure trove where at least 60 burial sites have so far been discovered. Scientists say both were male and died in their early twenties, with the first placed at somewhere between 16 and 21 years old at the time of death and the other between 20 and 25.
The pair were found buried on top of one another, their faces turned towards each other with legs flung backwards. Scientists from the IPN and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) believe the unusual positioning is the result of an ancient ritual honored by the first Californians.
About six to eight months after the initial burial and the bodies' subsequent decomposition, the two Mesoamericans were exhumed by their relatives, partially dismembered and then returned to their graves for a second burial.
"One man had his arms crossed at the height of his abdomen, the other, bent upwards so that his hands were on top of his shoulders; (relatives) wrapped them in a blanket, tied them tightly, and placed them in the pit, then covered them with beach sand," the institute said.
The skeletal remains date back to about 1,100 AD and have been sent to the Anthropological Laboratory of the INAH, the Regional Museum of Anthropology and History of La Paz for further analysis.