Ancient Burial Emerges in Honduran Cave

Science News, November 12, 1994 | Go to article overview

Ancient Burial Emerges in Honduran Cave


Four young men exploring a cave in northeastern Honduras last April reached a 30-foot-high dirt wall near the end of a passageway. Upon scaling the obstruction with a ladder, they discovered piles of human skulls and other bones scattered across a patch of level earth.

A team of archaeologists, who soon learned of the striking discovery through Honduran officials, announced last week that the site is an approximately 2,000-year-old cave burial of between 100 and 200 people. Only a few such burials have been found for ancient cultures of Mesoamerica, an area that covered much of Mexico and Central America, and scientific descriptions of them have been scanty, says James E. Brady of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., director of the Honduran project.

"This find should give some muchneeded prominence to cave archaeology and encourage the exploration of other caves that may contain similar burials," Brady asserts.

Brady's team conducted 2 weeks of fieldwork in the cave, known as the Cave of the River Talgua, during September. The wall that abuts the burial stands about one-quarter mile from the cave's entrance.

Investigators found limb bones stacked in piles, a sign that the cave served as a secondary burial site. Bodies were first interred elsewhere until the flesh decayed, then taken to the cave for permanent burial, Brady contends. …

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