Thursday, June 10, 2010

lovers of sumpa

Photograph by Eduardo Almeida Reyes

The skeletons of a male and a female in loving embrace were unearthed on Site 80 in the late 1970s by Karen Stothert and named the "Lovers of Sumpa" ("Amentes de Sumpa", Sumpa being the name of the local area) and dated to around 7.000 years ago. Since the discovery and exhibition in the local museum, the two lovers have provided a welcome magnet for tourists to the area.

The reason why the two skeletons' were buried in this unusual position remains unknown. The cause of death has not been established so that the rather strong possibility of a stoning (for adulterery? in what their contemporaries may have regarded as a shameful position?) remains. However, many early societies are known to have weighed down their dead with stones to prevent their return from the spirit world. For this reason, the stones on top of the skeletons need not necessarily be evidence for stoning. A detailed and thorough forensic investigation of the "Lovers of Sumpa" might be able to answer some of these open questions.

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