Archaeologists Find 16 Severed Hands in Egypt

Discovery seems to confirm an ancient ritual
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2012 3:51 PM CDT
Archaeologists Find 16 Severed Hands in Egypt
A stock image of hand bones.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Archaeologists digging up an ancient palace in Egypt uncovered a grisly stash of 16 severed human hands. The bones, dating back around 3,600 years, all belonged to right hands, and they were buried in four pits inside the palace, once home to King Khayan, a Hyksos ruler. The chopped-off extremities appear to be the first fossil evidence of an ancient custom, described in Egyptian art, of soldiers detaching their enemies' right hands and trading them in for gold, reports LiveScience.

"Each pit represents a ceremony," says one researcher. Cutting off only the right hands makes it easier to count slain enemies and delivers a potent symbolic message. "You deprive him of his power eternally," explains the researcher. The site is located in what used to be the city of Avaris, now named Tell el-Daba, northeast of Cairo. (Read more Egypt stories.)

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