The skull fragment was found in a cave in Spain and experts believe it belonged to someone whose head was struck with a hard object, cracking the skull.
The skull was discovered in the Atapuerca Mountains, where there are many limestone caves, tunnels and sinkholes.
The scientists discovered in one of the caves a massive collection of bones.
The site is known as “Sima de los Huesos”, which means “pit of bones” in Spanish.
Inside this pit there are thousands of skeletons belonging to 28 individuals from different species of Homo, including Homo heidelbergensis and an unknown species referred to as the Sima de los Huesos hominin.
No one knows for sure why there are so many bodies buried in the cave, but some experts believe this could be one of the first burial pits.
Nohemi Sala, an expert in paleontology at the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that the bodies were buried at the site by other members of the same social group.
Sala and her team tried to reconstruct the skull and found that there were two holes in it.
In order to solve the world’s oldest murder, the scientists examined the chemical composition of the skull and according to the analysis, the man or woman died due to the gravity of the head wounds.
Although there is a possibility that the ancient person fell into the pit and hit his head on a rock, the researchers say it’s highly unlikely that the two head wounds were the result of an accidental fall.
Which means the other logical explanation would be murder.
Sala said that based on the shape and size of the skull fractures, it’s very likely that the wounds were the result of several blows to the head inflicted by another individual, possibly with the same object.
The two probably had a face-to-face fight and one of them hit the other in the head with a blunt object and killed him.
The experts do not know for sure what the other may have used as a murder weapon, but they assume it could have been a prehistoric tool such as a wooden spear or a stone ax.
The findings on the world’s oldest murder case were detailed in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
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