Skulls found at Marsh Creek
Polished skulls were found during a grusome archaeology dig at Marsh CreekReuters

Archaeologists have unearthed a macabre burial site in the Californian town of Marsh Creek including severed heads and polished skull caps. In the gruesome discovery it appears that 'trophy heads' had been buried alongside the bodies of members of an ancient tribe.

Researchers found eight graves and it is believed that the heads were taken by ancient warriors to celebrate great victories or significant killings. In a bizarre twist it is understood that skulls may have belonged to the mothers of the individuals in the burial plots.

The excavation of the site, that is said to have housed 500 burials, was led by Dr Jelmer Eerkens from the University of California and was the northeastern edge of the Diablo Range along the creek that is a stream that starts near the eastern summit of Mount Diablo and carries on into the California Delta. Radiocarbon dating has uncovered that the region has been occupied for at least 7,000 years, the burials themselves took place between 4,300 and 2,950 years ago.

Eerkens told the Daily Mail: "Head taking is a powerful image in human societies, both today and in the past.

"Trophy heads figure prominently in the iconography of several ancient chiefdoms, states and empires, both in the Americas and beyond. Indeed, human trophy taking is present in nearly every major culture area of the Americas, except Patagonia."