Turkish police uncovered hundreds of ancient artifacts in anti-smuggling raids — including multiple shrunken human heads.
Acting on a tip, police in Izmir raided a home Dec. 13 and seized 400 relics, Reuters reported.
An initial search unveiled 19 Ottoman manuscripts, four bone hairpins, various Byzantine-era coins and 59 other assorted artifacts from various historical periods. Following the wildly successful raid, the operation was expanded and the anti-smuggling team went on to uncover four shrunken human heads — with skin and hair — plus three mummies and 27 18th-century paintings, among 269 other relics, some dating back to the prehistoric period.
The orange-sized heads — or “tsantsa” — are thought to be from South America’s Jivaro tribe, which believed that by sewing the mouth shut a soul was kept trapped as an act of revenge.