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Early Neolithic Cremation Burial in Israel Examined

Friday, August 14, 2020

Israel Neolithic CremationBEISAMOUN, ISRAEL—Live Science reports that a team of researchers led by Fanny Bocquentin of the French National Center for Scientific Research has analyzed a 9,000-year-old cremation burial unearthed in northern Israel’s Upper Jordan Valley. The study suggests that the body of a young adult was placed in a seated position with knees bent to the chest in or just above a U-shaped pit that was lined with reddish mud plaster. After the fire started, the body is thought to have fallen forward and rotated. The chemical composition of the 355 scorched bone fragments recovered from the burial indicates the fire reached at least 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bocquentin said that although the individual’s cause of death is unknown, the team members found a flint projectile point embedded in the left shoulder bone. The wound had begun to heal, indicating that the person had survived for at least several weeks after sustaining the injury. The team members also detected the presence of sedges, a type of rush used to make baskets and matting, in the grave. The plants may have been used to wrap the body in a shroud, Bocquentin explained. The hundreds of fragments of animal bones in the cremation pit may have come from animals used as fuel or offerings, or the bones may have been refuse in the dirt used to infill the grave. To read about other discoveries from the Levant, go to "The First Bakers," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2018.

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