Trophy Heads of Nazca.

The same mysterious civilization that left us the lines and inspirational giant pyramids also left puzzling piles of human heads… and reports that the more we learn about Nazca trophy heads, the weirder they seem:

Archaeologists determined that the severed heads were trophies because holes were made in the skulls allowing the heads to be suspended from woven cords. A debate has been raging for the past 100 years over their meaning.

[S]cientists took samples of tooth enamel from 16 trophy heads in the Field collection and 13 mummified bodies buried in the Nazca region. The results clearly show that donors of the trophy heads were from the same place as the people who kept the trophies, Williams said. This conclusion was based on research using modern technology to look for subtle differences in three elements found in the samples. Those elements – strontium, oxygen and carbon – each display a slightly different atomic structure that varies by geographic location.

“The vast majority of trophy skulls came from the same populations as the people they were buried with. They still could be the trophies of war; maybe warfare was oriented against related communities, or maybe this was ritual.”

Not conquerors, but collectors?