Archaeologists Find Severed Hands in Egypt, Evidence Of Ancient Ritual

Dusten Carlson - Author

Jun. 15 2013, Updated 9:09 p.m. ET

Archaeologists rummaging around in an ancient Egyptian palace made a grisly discovery – a cache of severed human hands, dating back thousands of years, seemingly confirming the practice of an ancient ritual.

Sixteen severed right hands were discovered by archaeologists in front of a Hyksos palace at Avaris (in modern-day Tell el-Daba), according to LiveScience. The remains were buried in four pits, two of them located in front of what was believed to be a throne room. Each of the “throne room pits” contained one hand each, while the other two held the remaining 14. And by the way, you have been reading this correctly – there are no left hands, only right.

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Archaeologists believe that the discovery is evidence confirming a gruesome ancient Egyptian ritual. The idea is this: the right hands would have been chopped off and presented to the king, or one of his subordinates, in exchange for gold. The discovery is the first archaeological evidence of such a practice. Rubbing elbows with history, the remains have been dated back 3,600 years, while the palace in question was occupied by King Khayan. Historians believe that the Hyksos originated from northern Canaan, that they controlled a part of Egypt, and that their capital resided at Avaris on the Nile Delta.

Additionally, the size of the hands discovered is noteworthy. “Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large,” project and field director of the excavations Manfred Bietak said. The choice of the right hand is also significant, as it helps count victims accurately, reports Newser. It also bears a pointed symbolic meaning – taking away an enemy’s strength. “You deprive him of his power eternally,” Bietak explained.


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