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Early Human Burials Were Mostly Simple

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sunghir-tumba paleolitica 360wDENVER, COLORADO—A study of 85 burials dating to the Upper Paleolithic concludes that while on occasion early humans in Eurasia fashioned ornate burials for their deceased, they primarily employed simple practices when interring their dead. Other conclusions from the study, which included the examination of burials in Russia, Italy and the Czech Republic, found that men were buried more often than women and that children were rarely buried at all, especially later in the time period investigated. Interestingly, the simple burials observed by the archaeologists from the University of Colorado Denver seemed to mimic Neanderthal burials—the dead were often put in pits and buried with everyday items they likely used in their lives. "Some researchers have used burial practices to separate modern humans from Neanderthals," said anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore, the study leader. "But we are challenging the orthodoxy that all modern human burials were necessarily more sophisticated than those of Neanderthals."