The analysis results from 12 severed hands uncovered by archaeologists in Egypt were released Friday.
The right hands are believed to have belonged to at least 12 different adults, 11 of whom were male and one female, according to the study. They were discovered in three different pits in a courtyard in front of a throne room that once belonged to a 15th Dynasty Hyksos palace at Avaris.
While the practice of removing hands has been uncovered in artistic depictions, the discovery is the first physical evidence, the study authors noted. It’s unclear whether these hands in question were removed before or after the victims’ deaths, but the act was considered a form of “trophy taking.”
The hands were placed palm-down, the fingers spread out, according to the research. Instead of being cut at the wrist, the amputation started on the lower part of the arm.
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“One technique of severing hands is to cut the joint capsule and open it by intersecting the tendons spanning the wrist joint,” the researchers noted. “If done correctly, there are no cut marks on the bones. If done unprofessionally, however, cut marks are to be expected.” (RELATED: Ancient Climate Crisis That Ended An Empire Discovered In The Strangest Place)
The Jerusalem Post argued the discovery sheds light on warfare practices in Egyptian society. But severing hands is also part of the punishment for thieves under Sharia law. As we can’t ask any ancient Egyptians why they cut off people’s hands, it’s probably just easiest to speculate as we throw up into our currently-attached hands at how gross this entire thing is.