Submitted By: admin on January 6, 2021
Is burying the dead a practice unique to Homo sapiens? Or did other early humans such as Neanderthals lay their loved ones to rest under the earth? It's a topic of long-standing debate among archaeologists. Now, evidence of funerary behavior could shed light on the cognitive abilities and social customs of Neanderthals and whether, like modern humans, they were capable of symbolic thought. Dozens of buried Neanderthal skeletons have been discovered in Europe and parts of Asia over the course of 150 years. The most well-preserved ones, however, were found at the beginning of the 20th century and weren't excavated using modern methods. This has led to skepticism about whether Neanderthal burial practice was deliberate. How Neanderthal DNA affects human health -- including the risk of getting Covid-19 How Neanderthal DNA affects human health -- including the risk of getting Covid-19 A new analysis of a 41,000 year-old skeleton of a Neanderthal child, found in a French cave in the 1970s, provides fresh evidence that the Stone Age hominins intentionally buried their dead. French and Spanish researchers re-examined the remains using modern high-tech methods, re-excavated the original archaeological site where the bones were found in La Ferrassie, southwestern France, and reviewed the notebooks and field diaries from the original dig. Their conclusion? The corpse of a 2-year-old Neanderthal was deliberately laid in a pit dug in the sediment. This artist's reconstruction shows a child's burial by Neanderthals at La Ferrassie in southwestern France. © Emmanuel Roudier This artist's reconstruction shows a child's burial by Neanderthals at La Ferrassie in southwestern France. © Emmanuel Roudier The absence of marks from carnivores who may have tried to scavenge an uncovered body and the fact that the bones were relatively unscattered with little weathering suggested that the body was rapidly covered, the researchers said. The remains were also well preserved (better than the bones from animals found in the same layer of earth) despite belonging to a child. Children's skeletons typically have more delicate bones. The position of the skeleton also suggested the child had been placed there intentionally. The head, which pointed to the east, was raised higher than the rest of the body even though the land inclined to the west. Neanderthals may have used their hands differently from humans Neanderthals may have used their hands differently from humans "The origin of funerary practices has important implications for the emergence of so-called modern cognitive capacities and behaviour," the study said. "These new results provide important insights for the discussion about the chronology of the disappearance of the Neanderthals, and the behavioral capacity, including cultural and symbolic expression, of these humans." The researchers from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and the University of the Basque Country in Spain identified 47 bones belonging to the child's skeleton that hadn't been previously identified. One piece of bone was carbon dated and found to be 41,000 years old. Researchers confirmed the bone belonged to a Neanderthal by analyzing the fragment's mitochondrial DNA. The child was one of eight sets of skeletal remains found at the site. Death rites Potential evidence of burial has also been found in one of the most famous Neanderthal sites, the Shanidar cave in Kurdistan, located in northern Iraq. This site was home to the remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children. They were found with ancient pollen clumps, suggesting that Neanderthals may have included flowers as part of their funeral rites. Neanderthal fathers were younger than Homo sapiens, but mothers were older, study says Neanderthal fathers were younger than Homo sapiens, but mothers were older, study says More recent excavations of the Shanidar cave have turned up more Neanderthal remains, which early research has suggested were deliberately buried. Other research has suggested that there was considerable diversity in how European Neanderthals treated their dead kin in the period immediately preceding their disappearance roughly 40,000 years ago -- including cannibalism. The team of researchers said today's analytical standards should be applied to the other skeletal remains at the La Ferrassie site to assess whether they too were buried. Actress Tanya Roberts died Monday night, her partner, Lance O'Brien, told CNN on Tuesday. Roberts was 65. CNN and other media outlets, citing her longtime publicist, Mike Pingel, had previously reported Roberts died Sunday evening. O'Brien told CNN he was distraught after saying goodbye to Roberts at her hospital bedside on Sunday and left believing it would be the last time he saw her. On Monday morning, O'Brien got a call from the hospital and learned that Roberts was still alive, according to Pingel and O'Brien. CNN updated its reporting to reflect that Roberts was still alive and hospitalized in critical condition Monday afternoon. O'Brien said he was notified after 9 p.m. PST Monday that the actress had passed. Roberts was hospitalized in Los Angeles on December 24, after she collapsed at her California home following a walk with her dogs. Her cause of death has not been released, but O'Brien and Pingel told CNN previously she tested negative for Covid-19. Born Victoria Leigh Blum, Roberts began her career as a model before breaking into films. A 30-year career in movies and TV followed. She had starring roles in the cult favorites "The Beastmaster" and "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle." And she appeared in several well-known TV shows of the time, including "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," and one season of "Charlie's Angels" as one of the three principal characters. Then came her most iconic role until that point. In 1985, she played geologist Stacey Sutton in 'A View to a Kill,' opposite Roger Moore in his final outing as 007. Roberts then earned a new legion of fans during her turn as Midge, Donna Pinciotti's dimwitted mom, in "That 70s Show." She suddenly left the sitcom in its fourth season to tend to her now-late husband who had been diagnosed with an illness. (She returned in later seasons as a recurring character.) Her last on-screen appearance was in 2005 in the TV series "Barbershop." An ancient Roman marble slab, used for nearly a decade as a horse mounting block before its origins were revealed, is at the center of a mystery as experts scramble to find out how it ended up in the garden of a bungalow in England. The intricate slab features a Greek inscription that gives a clue to its origins, and has been dated back to the second century AD. 'Tremendously exciting' 5th century Roman mosaic found in Britain But its more recent travels have confounded experts. The slab was stumbled upon 20 years ago by the owner of a house in Whiteparish, a village in southern England, who found it in the rockery of her garden. She used it as a mounting block in her stable for almost 10 years before finally noticing a laurel wreath carved into its surface, according to a press release from auction house Woolley and Wallis, which is selling the rock. Will Hobbs, an antiquities specialist at Woolley and Wallis, said artifacts such as the rock often arrived in England in the 18th and 19th centuries when wealthy aristocrats would tour Europe learning about classical art and culture. "We assume that is how it entered the UK, but what is a complete mystery is how it ended up in a domestic garden, and that's where we'd like the public's help," Hobbs said in a statement. The garden in which the slab was found. The garden in which the slab was found. Credit: Woolley & Wallis After noticing the detail on the slab, the home's more recent owner took it to an archaeologist, who dated it to the second century with likely origins in Greece or Anatolia. Its inscription reads: "The people (and) the Young Men (honor) Demetrios (son) of Metrodoros (the son) of Leukios." The slab is set to be sold in February by Woolley and Wallis, with a pre-sale estimate of up to £15,000 ($20,300). Auctioneers are asking local residents whether they know anyone who lived in the area in recent decades, as they work to find clues as to how the slab found itself in the quiet English garden. They are also asking whether anyone involved in the construction of the bungalow, built on Common Road in Whiteparish in the mid-1960s, might "recall the origins of some of the rubble used." "There are several possibilities of where the stone might have originated," Hobbs said. Lying down and vomiting between courses: This is how Ancient Romans would feast "Both Cowesfield House and Broxmore House were very close to Whiteparish and were demolished in 1949 after having been requisitioned by the army during the war. But we also know that the house at what is now Paulton's Park was destroyed by fire in 1963 and so possibly rubble from there was reused at building sites in the area shortly after."