A decades-old mystery over an eerie Himalayan lake littered with human remains deepens, as scientists say hundreds of people died there spread over 1,000 years.
It was previously thought that the “Skeleton Lake” site was the result of a sudden and strange ancient catastrophe in the 9th century。
But new research suggests that skeletons at Roopkund lake were killed in multiple events between the 9th and 19th centuries。
凤凰快3Adding to the mystery is DNA evidence that suggests some of the people who died in the Indian region were from the Mediterranean.
And many of the skeletons have crushed skulls created by blows to the back of the head, likely created by round objects falling from above。
“Roopkund Lake has long been subject to speculation about who these individuals were, what brought them to Roopkund Lake and how they died,” said study author Niraj Rai, of India’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences.
Roopkund lake was first “discovered” in 1942, during World War II.
British officials at the time thought the skeletons were casualties of a Japanese invasion force.
But later studies concluded that the hundreds of people killed there were wiped out by a sudden and violent hailstorm in the 9th century.
Now a large-scale study of 72 skeletons at the site suggest that the people were killed “in at least two episodes,” separated by 1,000 years. The findings were published in Nature Communications.
The first event was between the 7th and 10th centuries, where individuals with Indian-related ancestry died at Roopkund.
Experts say it’s possible that these people died during several distinct events。
Then, at some point in the 17th to 20th centuries, two other groups were killed there。
Strangely, these people are believed to have been travelers from the eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia。
“We were extremely surprised by the genetics of the Roopkund skeletons,” said Éadaoin Harney of Harvard University。
“The presence of individuals with ancestries typically associated with the eastern Mediterranean suggests that Roopkund Lake was not just a site of local interest, but instead drew visitors from across the globe.”
What archaeologists still don’t know is what brought the people to the lake。
More importantly, they’re not entirely sure what actually killed them。
“We discovered that the history of Roopkund Lake is more complex than we ever anticipated,” said David Reich of Harvard Medical School, who co-authored the study.
“And [it] raises the striking question of how migrants from the eastern Mediterranean, who have an ancestry profile that is extremely atypical of the region today, died in this place only a few hundred years ago.”