(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish and Portuguese archaeologists have found a Middle Neolithic burial in the Cueva de la Dehesilla cave. It contained two human skulls and a goat skeleton. This find opens up an opportunity for scientists to study in detail the funeral rites of the ancient inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
“This discovery opens up new avenues of research and anthropological scenarios in which human and animal sacrifices could be associated with ancestor cults, propitious rituals and divine prayers during commemorative holidays,” said Daniel Garcia Rivero, one of the study authors, University of Seville.
Archaeologists from the University of Seville have been excavating at Cueva de la Dehesilla near Cadiz. They found two adult human skulls dating back to the Middle Neolithic (4800-4000 BC). One of them is male, the other is female, and the first is older. In the female skull there is a depression in the frontal bone, which, as scientists assume, appeared as a result of trepanation. And in the back of the head, archaeologists found cuts that were formed as a result of decapitation. Next to the human skulls lay the skeleton of a young goat. Scientists also found a second part in the burial, which was separated from the remains by a wall. There was a stone altar with a stele and a hearth.
“This is an exceptional archaeological find. The different handling of the skulls with trauma evidence and the sacrificed animals and the archaeological structures we discovered do not correspond to the traditional burial rites that we knew about before. This discovery is important not only because of its peculiarities, but also because it is an intact burial, which provides an excellent opportunity to get a more detailed understanding of the funeral and ritual rituals of the Neolithic population of the Iberian Peninsula, ”said García Rivero.
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