Oldest human burial found in Africa is a Child’s grave

Modern researchers and archaeologists are always interested in the origin and evolution of culture and mortuary practices & traditions of early hominin populations. Recently researchers have found a 78,000 years old burial of a young child in a natural ancient cave at the tropical upland coast of Kenya. The burial belongs to the Middle Stone Age. In archaeology, the timeline of the Middle Stone Age in Africa is considered as 320,000 to 30,000 years ago. As of now, it is the oldest known human burial in Africa.

The recent discovery represents a case of an intentional burial at Panga ya Saidi cave of Kenya. The estimated age of the child is 3 years old. Several Geochemical, granulometric, and micromorphological examinations were conducted on the burial. The evidence from these analyses depicts a purposely excavated pit. The pit was then covered by sediment raised from the floor. Scientific study shows that during the burial process, the body of the baby was fresh and later decayed in the grave.

The optically stimulated luminescence dating of the burial concludes it 78,300 ± 4,100 years old. The orientation of the bones of the skeleton represents the presence of symbolism in the burial process. According to archaeological nomenclature, the body was kept in the flexed position. The orientations of bone fragments depict that the body was placed lying softly inclined on its right side. The legs were folded and aligned towards the chest portion.

The study was conducted by Martinón-Torres, M., d’Errico, F., Santos, E., et al.

For the Original research article, Click on Nature.

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