Why ancient people often had only 9 fingers on their hands: scientists have found a clue

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
People probably amputated their fingers to appease the gods

Scientists often noticed handprints among cave paintings, which indicated that the authors were missing one finger. Since the phenomenon was quite common, it did not indicate an accident or an exception, but a certain practice, the essence of which researchers did not understand.

Now, a study whose authors believe they can shed light on this mystery has appeared. The probable reason for the absence of fingers was an ancient ritual.

Scientists have examined drawings estimated to be 25,000 years old. These are rock paintings that were discovered in France and Spain. Traces of hands with at least one finger missing were found on more than 200 drawings.

Scientists said that sometimes it was also possible to notice the absence of several fingers or only one upper segment.

Initially, such hand features were attributed to artistic speculation by the creators of cave paintings or attributed to real medical problems of ancient people, such as frostbite.

But a team of scientists from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, led by archaeology professor Mark Collard, believes the truth may be much more horrifying.

"There is compelling evidence that these people may have deliberately amputated their fingers during rituals aimed at obtaining help from supernatural beings," The Guardian quoted Collard as saying.

According to him, this ritual was not localized and spread globally. As proof of this, he points out that "many societies still encourage finger cutting today, and have done so throughout history."

For example, the Dani people of the highlands of New Guinea have a practice of cutting off one or more fingers of women "after the death of loved ones, including sons or daughters."

So, according to scientists, Europeans in the Paleolithic period may have had a similar ritual, although the specific belief systems may have differed.

"We believe that this practice was not necessarily routine, but took place in different periods of history," the scientist said.

Collard has made similar statements about finger amputations before, but the scientific community has criticized them to the hilt, saying that ancient people simply would not have survived such a procedure or its consequences. In particular, without fully functioning hands, their lives would have been a nightmare in the harsh conditions that prevailed millennia ago.

However, in his new study, Collard has collected more data to support his theory. The researchers said that their latest findings provided even more convincing evidence that the removal of fingers to appease deities explains the depictions of hands in caves in France and Spain.

The team searched for evidence of finger amputation in other societies and found more than 100 cases where it was practiced. These examples are also not limited to Europe: four sites in Africa, three in Australia, nine in North America, five in South Asia and one in Southeast Asia contain evidence of finger amputation.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that a skull, which probably belonged to a previously unknown species of ancient people, was found in China.

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