ASUNCION – Human remains found in a Chamacoco community in Paraguay’s portion of the Chaco region are 2,000 years old, the earliest discovered to date in that vast territory, according to research presented at the Italian Embassy in Asuncion.
Unearthed by Italian archaeologists during a 2013-2014 expedition in the Bahia Negra area of the northern province of Alto Paraguay, the bones were then analyzed at a lab in Italy using the carbon-14 dating method.
The team, following in the footsteps of Italian ethnographer Guido Boggiani (1861-1901), found human bones at Karcha Bahlut, a burial site about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from Bahia Negra, research coordinator Gherardo La Francesca said.
La Francesca told Efe that the remains examined in Italy are just a small portion of the trove the site holds.
Further research is needed to determine if the remains belong to ancestors of the Ishir Chamacoco people who now live in the area.
The find at Karcha Bahlut will allow scholars to understand key aspects of the ancient Chamacoco culture, such as diet, the ailments that afflicted people and the nature of social organization, Jose Zanardini, an anthropologist at Asuncion’s Universidad Catolica, told Efe.
“We know that as a society, they were very developed before the arrival of the Spaniards, with social and economic interactions based on egalitarianism and respect for nature, a world view that was the backbone of their culture,” Zanardini said.
The bones will be returned to Paraguay, National Culture Secretary Mabel Causarano said during the event at the embassy, where Ambassador Antonella Cavallari said an Italian team will cooperate with Paraguayan researchers to excavate the Karcha Bahlut site.