Tuesday, January 18, 2011
One of the greatest mysteries of the Himalayas is a small glacial lake named Roopkund. The lake is located in the Uttarakhand state of India, at an altitude of about 5,029 meters (16,499 feet). The area surrounding the lake is completely uninhabited and the water is a five day treacherous hike from civilization. In 1942, Roopkund gained the name Skeleton Lake when over five hundred human skulls, bones and artifacts were discovered surrounding and inside the ice. These human bones have baffled scientists for decades because historians don’t understand who these people were or what they were doing so high in the mountains. Roopkund was never a historically significant region and no traces of any trade routes to Tibet have been found.
The documentary Skeleton Lake, made by the National Geographic Channel, claimed that Roopkund was the venue for the Garhwali religious festival called Nanda Jaat yatra, which is held every 12 years, but facts supporting this claim are limited. It was originally believed by specialists that the people died from an epidemic, landslide or blizzard, but after an archaeological team examined the site in 2004, it was determined that the skulls contained severe head trauma. Based on this evidence it has been hypothesized that the people died from a sudden hailstorm. It has been suggested that the hailstones were as large as tennis balls, and with no shelter in the open Himalayas, all of the people perished in the storm.
Probably the most remarkable discovery came after scientists conducted DNA tests on the bones, which proved to have a rich source of DNA material. The bodies were dated to AD 850 with a possible mistake up to 30 years. This date was 600 years earlier than initially reported. Remarkably, the experts have found that the dead individuals belonged to two different teams. One team is marked by a shorter stature of the skeletons, while the other human bones are significantly taller. The recorded DNA genetic mutations have caught the attention of the scientific community. It remains unclear exactly who these people were? What they looked like or why they were traveling in this remote area of the Himalayas?
Posted by The Champ at 8:38 AM