1000’s of Human Bones Present in Cave Used As Tomb for 4 Millennia

Archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of human and animal skeletal stays in a cave, revealing that it was used as a burial web site for millennia throughout prehistoric occasions.

The cave, often known as the Cova dels Xaragalls, is positioned within the municipality of Vimbodí i Poblet within the autonomous group of Catalonia, northeastern Spain.

Excavations carried out on the collapse December 2023—underneath the course of the Catalan Institute for Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES)—have recognized greater than 7,000 human skeletal stays, in addition to numerous animal bones, fragments of ceramic vessels and decorative objects.

These finds date from the Neolithic (or New Stone Age) to the Bronze Age, particularly, a interval stretching from round 7,000 to three,000 years in the past. The discoveries within the cave affirm that it served as a tomb for greater than 4 millennia, IPHES introduced in a press launch.

A human cranium recovered from Cova dels Xaragalls within the municipality of Vimbodí i Poblet, Catalonia, Spain. Proof from the cave means that it was used as a burial web site for greater than 4,000 years….

Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo/College of Seville/IPHES

“We all know that this cavity was used as a burial cave, it was a cemetery through which the our bodies of the deceased have been deposited. It was used for this [purpose] for millennia, which generated a big deposit of human corpses,” Antonio Rodríguez Hidalgo, a professor within the division of prehistory and archaeology on the College of Seville and affiliate researcher with IPHES, mentioned in a launch.

The truth that the cave was used constantly for burial functions over such an extended interval permits researchers to review modifications within the prehistoric societies of the area, significantly how deaths have been handled in numerous intervals. This comes with its challenges, nonetheless.

“In cave funerary contexts, the place the identical areas have been reused for millennia, some of the sophisticated challenges is making an attempt to doc the totally different modes of burial carried out by the populations that successively occupied the territory,” Alfredo Suesta, one of many administrators of the current excavations, mentioned within the launch.

The massive amount of animal stays uncovered throughout the excavations symbolize numerous animals, together with sheep, goats, pigs and cows—all of which have been typical livestock animals in Mediterranean prehistory—in addition to canine and horses.

Intriguingly, one a part of the cave preserves the skeletal stays of untamed goat, charcoal and burnt bones dated to greater than 40,000 years in the past. These findings recommend that the cave might have beforehand been frequented by Neanderthals, considered one of our closest human family. Neanderthals lived in Eurasia earlier than disappearing round 40,000 years in the past.

Earlier analysis has documented the usage of caves as burial websites by prehistoric people in components of the Iberian Peninsula—the stretch of land in southwestern Europe shared between Spain and Portugal—over lengthy intervals of time.

For instance, one examine revealed final yr confirmed how prehistoric people manipulated and utilized the bones of deceased people buried in a cave all through hundreds of years.

Within the PLOS One examine, a crew examined quite a few human stays belonging to a minimum of 12 people present in a cave within the Andalusia area of southern Spain, often known as Cueva de los Marmoles.

The researchers dated the stays to between roughly the fifth and 2nd millennia B.C. The proof means that the people have been positioned within the cave whereas solely partially decomposed.

The researchers recognized intentional modifications to the bones that have been carried out after loss of life, together with fractures and scrapes which may have resulted from efforts to extract marrow and different tissues.

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