Everyone feared the worst when a contractor found human bones in January while installing a pool in the backyard of a Florida home.
It seemed even more like murder when two skulls were recovered. One belonged to an adult male, the other to a 10- or 11-year-old boy. The child’s skull bore remnants of flesh, suggesting a recent kill. Pottery and textiles were found with the bones, as well as a scrap of newspaper dating to 1978.
What no one suspected, though, was that the remains had an origin much more mysterious than murder.
“When x-rayed by the medical examiner’s office, it was clear that the bones were hundreds of years old, and that the human tissue on the cheek of the skull had been mummified,” according to an ABC News story. “The skulls featured an ‘Inca bone,’ a telltale sign of a human from the Incan culture of Peru.”
The bones date back to somewhere between 1200 and 1400 A.D.
How they ended up in Florida is anybody’s guess.
It’s possible that someone brought the mummies back from Peru as a souvenir or a keepsake of home.
“Back in the 1030s or 1940s, people would go on vacation and buy things like that, and maybe they buried them when they didn’t want them anymore,” Jan Garavaglia, a Florida medical examiner, told ABC. ”Another possibility is that it used to be a migrant farm worker camp, and some cultures will bring part of their heritage with them when they leave. It could be that they were moving on and decided to bury it there.”
Don’t get any ideas. Transporting body parts as macabre souvenirs is now illegal.