500-year-old shrunken heads ‘size of oranges’ found in epic smuggler’s den raid

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An impressive smuggler's raid has uncovered 500-year-old shrunken skulls and mummies from a South American tribe.

Police in Izmir, Turkey, found the gruesome artefacts amid 400 items during a raid at two addresses in the city's Aliaga district.

Photos from the discovery show the shrunken heads with incredible facial features still visible, including what appears to be a mouth sewn together.

The small heads may be slightly bigger than a closed fist, but some are as small as 'oranges'.

In the first house, Ministry of Commerce Customs Enforcement Smuggling Intelligence Directorate teams found coins from the Byzantine period, 19 Ottoman manuscripts and four bone hairpins.

In a second search, four skulls, three mummified remains and 27 paintings, as well as 269 other relics, were found in a warehouse.

The remarkable finds were taken to Izmir Archeology Museum and the paintings were transported to Paintings, Sculture Museum and Gallery.

Some of the items will take a long time to examine.

Museum director Hünkar Keser told Arkeo News: "Our oldest artefacts are flints, arrowheads, which we think belong to the Neolithic period.

"There are also artefacts that we think are from different cultures of the world. There are tiny skulls the size of oranges among them.

"We think that they are at least 500 years old, made of real human skulls. These tribes lived before America was discovered."

It's believed people began smuggling the skulls into Europe after America was founded, but today it's forbidden to move them.

The Aliağa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office is continuing to investigate the smuggling of the artefacts.

In another incredible find, a mammoth graveyard believed to be 200,000 years old was unearthed by archaeologists in a British quarry.

The team found the remains of five of the prehistoric beasts near Swindon, including two adults, two juveniles and a baby of the species.

Two amateur fossil hunters, Sally and Neville Hollingworth found a Neanderthal hand axe at the site and sparked a digging expedition.

Archaeologists then embarked on the site and found remains belonging to a species of the Steppe mammoth, ancestors of the famous woolly mammoth.

Research is underway to discover why so many mammoths were found in one spot and whether they were actually hunted by Neanderthals.

It's been hailed as one of Britain's most significant Ice Age discoveries in recent years, says Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England.

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