Fortean Times - - ARCHÆOLOGY -

And now for hap­pier news from an­tiq­uity. In Rus­sia, at the son­amed Sun­gir archæo­log­i­cal site, about 200km (124 miles) east of Moscow, are buri­als dat­ing back about 34,000 years (Up­per Palæolithic). They rep­re­sent one of the ear­li­est records of modern Homo sapi­ens in Europe. Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est is the burial of two young boys, aged about 10 and 12. They were in­terred head-to-head and ac­com­pa­nied by an ex­traor­di­nar­ily rich ar­ray of grave goods, in­clud­ing carved art­work, over 10,000 mam­moth ivory beads, more than 20 arm­bands, about 300 pierced fox teeth, 16 ivory mam­moth spears, and deer antlers (two hu­man lower leg bones were also placed across the boys’ chests). Ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of their den­tal enamel, both boys ex­pe­ri­enced re­peated pe­ri­ods of ex­treme stress. The 10-year-old’s thigh­bones are de­scribed as “ex­cep­tion­ally bowed and short”’, but he would nev­er­the­less have been phys­i­cally mo­bile. The 12-year-old’s teeth sur­pris­ingly had al­most no wear, rare for den­tal con­di­tions in that era. Analy­ses of his skele­ton in­di­cate that he was bedrid­den. It seems he was be­ing cared for and fed soft foods, such as soups and ce­re­als. While th­ese kids were buried like ver­i­ta­ble kings, the 10 adult buri­als at the site con­tained nowhere near such rich grave goods – in­deed, some had none. LiveS­cience, 13 Feb 2018.

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