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Did Neanderthals Believe in an Afterlife?

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Evidence for a likely 50,000-year-old Neanderthal burial ground that includes the remains of at least three individuals has been unearthed in Spain, according to a Quaternary International paper.

The deceased appear to have been intentionally buried, with each Neanderthal’s arms folded such that the hands were close to the head. Remains of other Neanderthals have been found in this position, suggesting that it held meaning.

Neanderthals therefore may have conducted burials and possessed symbolic thought before modern humans had these abilities. The site, Sima de las Palomas in Murcia, Southeast Spain, may also be the first known Neanderthal burial ground of Mediterranean Europe.

“We cannot say much (about the skeletons) except that we surmise the site was regarded as somehow relevant in regard to the remains of deceased Neanderthals,” lead author Michael Walker told Discovery News. “Their tools and food remains, not to mention signs of fires having been lit, which we have excavated indicate they visited the site more than once.”

Walker, a professor in the Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology at the University of Murcia, and his colleagues have been working at the site for some time. So far they have found buried articulated skeletons for a young adult female, a juvenile or child, and an adult — possibly male — Neanderthal.

“We cannot say whether these three individuals were related, though it is likely,” he said, explaining that DNA has been denatured due to high ambient temperatures. “Surely the child was related to one of the others, though.”

The three skeletons represent some of the best-preserved, and most methodically excavated remains of Neanderthals…

Via http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/neanderthal-burial-ground-afterlife-110420.html

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Written by Nokgiir

April 28, 2011 at 12:41 am

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