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Scientists Revisit Unusual Cave Burial in Poland

Friday, November 30, 2018

Poland child skeletonWARSAW, POLAND—According to a Science in Poland report, researchers led by Małgorzata Kot of the University of Warsaw's Institute of Archaeology are investigating the burial of a child whose remains were discovered 50 years ago in a shallow grave in a cave in south-central Poland’s Sąspowska Valley. Some of the child’s bones were found in university storage boxes, but the location of the skull, which was sent out for study shortly after the original excavation, is currently unknown. Radiocarbon dating of the bones revealed the child, who died at about the age of ten, lived in the second half of the eighteenth century or the turn of the nineteenth century, at a time when most people were buried in cemeteries, making the cave burial unusual. A photograph of the excavation, published in the 1980s, shows that the child was buried with the skull of one chaffinch in his or her mouth, and another near his or her cheek. The birds’ skulls were recently reexamined, but no clues to their significance in the grave were detected. “We only know that these were the remains of adult birds,” Kot said. To read about bird remains discovered in New Mexico, go to “Early Parrots in the Southwest.”

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