A COLD CASE mystery around a 33,000-year-old cracked skull has finally been solved: the man was violently murdered.
The skull was first discovered by miners in Romania in 1941 and left archaeologists baffled – but modern simulations reveal the truth behind a chilling homicide.
3 The cracked skull regarded as one of the coldest cases on record is solved – he was bludgeoned by a left-handed murderer wielding a batCredit: Kranioti, EF
It’s still impossible to say exactly why the man was murdered, but evidence suggests it was an attack with a weapon.
Experts conducted “experimental trauma simulations” using 12 synthetic bone spheres.
They tested scenarios like falling from various heights, as well as single or double blows from rocks or bats, led by Germany’s Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.
And they were able to pin down a specific scenario that seems most likely, with the results published in the PLOS ONE journal.
It turns out that there were actually two injuries at or near the time of Paleolithic man’s death.
One is a linear fracture at the base of the skull.
This was followed by a depressed fracture on the right side of the cranial vault – the part that encases and protects the brain.
Simulations showed that these fractures “strongly resemble” an injury from consecutive blows with a bat-like object.
The positioning of the blow that created the depressed fracture came from a “face-to-face confrontation”.
It’s believed that the killer would’ve been holding his or her bat in their left hand.
Analysis indicates that both injuries weren’t the result of an accident, or damage after death.
3 Paleolithic people would’ve used rudimentary stone-based tools and weapons, including bats, spears and bowsCredit: Alamy
The study claims that the fractures would’ve been fatal, but only the skull has been found – so bodily injuries that led to death “may have also been sustained”.
The conclusion is that the cracked skull is proof of “an intentionally-caused violent death”.
Researchers added that it suggests “homicide was practised by early humans during the Upper Paleolithic”.
“The Upper Paleolithic was a time of increasing cultural complexity and technological sophistication,” they wrote.
“Our work shows that violent interpersonal behaviour and murder was also part of the behavioural repertoire of these early modern Europeans.”
Upper Paleolithic period – the key factsHere’s what you need to know…
The Upper Paleolithic period is the third and last “subdivision” of the Paleolithic age
It’s better known as the Late Stone Age, and took place between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago
It was followed by the Holocene, which is the current geological age
Anatomically modern humans emerged from Africa around 200,000 years ago
But it was only until 50,000 years ago that a marked increase in the diversity of human creations began
The period also coincides with the extinction of the Neanderthals
The Late Stone Age has the earliest known evidence of organised settlements like campsites
We also saw a blossoming of artistic work, as well as evidence of fishing and specialised tool creation
The skull was found in the Pestera Cioclovina cave in South Transylvania, Romania.
It was uncovered by phosphate miners in 1941, alongside stone tools from Upper Palaeolithic Aurignacian culture.
Early studies showed that the skull belong to an adult man, but no one has been able to confirm how the man’s injuries were sustained.
There was also an ongoing puzzle over whether the skull was damaged before or after death.
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Do you think scientists will ever be able to find out why this murder took place? Let us know in the comments!
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