Archaeologists have identified the oldest human burial and known funerary behavior in Africa, through field work that unveiled the remains of a child who was carefully buried to lie in a tomb about 80,000 years ago, during what is known as the Middle Stone Age.
The disclosure is particularly important given the ambiguity of the interpretation of funerary practices and burial traditions in the continent, the great debate between archaeologists and anthropologists (anthropology) and the scarcity of physical evidence. The culture of dealing with the dead is one of the features of human societies that make them different from the animal races, and living humans have carried feelings of honoring the dead in their hearts since ancient times. Read also It dates back to the time of the conquest and is in addition to newly discovered Islamic monuments .. Discovery of one of the oldest mosques in the world in Tiberias The pyramid builders were distinguished workers or slaves? .. Archeology and Pharaonic economics controversy Archaeological discoveries from the Hellenistic era in northern Jordan New archaeological discoveries in Qatar show aspects of human life before Christ
The arrangement of the bones shows that the 3-year-old child, called “Mutu” after the word “Child in Swahili”, was placed carefully and in a flexible manner with his knees and legs bent towards the chest, and perhaps he was carefully wrapped in a shroud and his head on what resembles a pillow, before being covered Gently into the soil with sediments taken from the cave itself and spilled on the body.
Researchers discovered the thin, corroded bones while digging the ground beneath a protected outcrop at the foot of the Banja Ya Sidi limestone cave in the tropical highlands of the coastal plain in Kenya, about 10 miles offshore, according to the British newspaper The Guardian . ( Nature ).
Tell us a lot
Michael Petraglia, professor of human evolution and prehistory at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, said: “This is absolutely amazing, it is the oldest human burial in Africa, and it tells us something about our perception, our social capabilities and our behavior, all of which are very familiar to us today.”
The team discovered the edge of the grave and the first pieces of bone in 2013, but the fragments were so fragile that they turned to dust when the scientists tried to remove them. Over the next four years, the researchers excavated the tomb from above, uncovering more bones, but even after using resin gum, they were still weak.
The researchers decided to continue digging around the circular hole, about 40 cm wide and 13 cm deep, and to cover the tomb completely with plaster so that it could be safely lifted off the ground. The mass was transferred to the National Museum in Nairobi and to a specialized laboratory in Spain, where the material was further excavated, and then imaged using 3D X-ray equipment.
Stone tools and human heritage
And two small teeth were found in the grave that matched the teeth of Homo sapiens, and there were other teeth that were still implanted in the child’s lower jaw, and they were discovered along with the spine, ribs and other bones from the shoulder and limbs, and stone tools were found for scratching and drilling in and around the tomb, along with Stone points may have been fixed to wooden poles to make spears.
The images show that the child was placed on his right side with his knees bent towards the chest, while the position of the skull indicates that it is lying on a headrest or a pillow, and the articular bones – such as the spine – did not split into the grave. This led researchers to suspect that the body was tightly wrapped in a shroud before burial. Experts found that the bones were 78,000 years old, according to the study published in the journal Nature.
Professor Nicole Boven, the lead investigator on the project, said, “Unlike chimpanzees, humans have begun to develop complex belief systems about death, and these differ greatly between cultures, as well as the ways in which the dead are treated, so we cannot draw specific conclusions. About what burial means to people, but what seems clear is that not only is there an emotional attachment to the dead, it also provides a framework for understanding death and making it meaningful. And unlike other types, we have cosmic belief systems that give meaning to experience and to events such as the death of a loved one. ” The Guardian.
Archaeologists have discovered oldest human burial sites outside of Africa. The human remains that were found from the tombs in the “Skhoul” cave on the slopes of Mount Carmel (Mount Mar Elias overlooking the port of Haifa and the Gulf of Acre in the eastern Mediterranean), and the Qafzeh cave (an archaeological site from the prehistoric era in Marj Ibn Amer in Lower Galilee) South of Nazareth), to between 90 and 130 thousand years ago.
Boffin said early African burials are especially rare, despite the fact that Africa is the birthplace of our species, and this almost certainly reflects a “negative” bias in where research is being conducted, given that the areas where previously extensively researched burials have been found are located. Mostly outside Africa, according to the British newspaper.
She added that it is extremely rare for scientists to reach such a snapshot for a moment in time, especially the one that was very old, and that the burial takes us back to a very sad moment, the one that despite the long time that separates us, we as humans can perceive it.