A swimming pool contractor in Florida unearthed skulls and pottery shards in February.
The discovery of two skulls in a Florida backyard sparked questions of intrigue and murder when they were found in January, but now investigators say the origin of the bones is even more mysterious than they thought.
The two skulls, of a 10-year-old boy and older man, date to 1200 to 1400, and show signs of being from Peru or South America, thousands of miles and a millenium from Winter Garden, Fla.
"The mystery is how they ended up there," medical examiner Jan Garavaglia said today. "We don't have any way of finding out."
Garavaglia enlisted the help of archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of Central Florida and Yale to try and trace the origins of the skulls. Researchers identified cloth items found with the bones as that of primitive slings and purses made of woven materials and non-human hair.
What the researchers cannot figure out, and Garavaglia says they probably will not figure out, is how the items came to buried in Florida.
Authorities suggest that the bones were taken from South America into Florida when transporting skeleton parts was a more acceptable practice; it is now against the law. A tourist with a unique keepsake, or a migrant with a relic from their culture, could have transported the skulls, she said.
"Back in the 1930s or 1940s, people would go on vacation and buy things like that, and maybe they buried them when they didn't want them anymore. Another possibility is that it used to be a migrant farm worker camp, and some cultures will bring part of their heritage with them when they leave. It could be that they were moving on and decided to bury it there," Garavaglia said.
"It was certainly a departure from the norm," Garavaglia said. "When you hold something in your hand that is that old, from 1200, it's amazing. To think about the connection back in time, that you hold in your hand what that they held in their hand. Amazing."