Grim cave discovery exposes what our ancestors did to their dead relatives
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A grim cave discovery exposes what our ancestors did with their dead relatives.
Nowadays when a loved one dies, we have some kind of ceremony or service and typically bury or cremate them. And then usually we have a few pints at a wake and enter a period of mourning.
Or maybe, you know, we put them in a big room and have people queue across a city for hours on end to walk past them in a box and then give everyone a day off work and air their funeral on TV. You know, the usual.
But findings in a new study into the Cueva de los Marmoles have revealed that ancient humans had a slightly, erm, different ritual.
The cave in Andalusia, Spain, reveals the secrets of what we used to do with dead people way back when.
The co-lead researches, Dr Marco Milella, Dr Zita Laffranchi and Professor Rafael Martínez Sánchez used the remains of at least 12 individuals.
They found that after death, other humans had made their bones into tools.
And – hold back now if you’re queasy – after eating the marrow they would sharpen the arms and legs into a spiky point.
There was also a ‘skull cup’ found which the ancient humans had scraped clean of the insides to use. Just the words ‘skull cup’ makes me shiver.
With no signs of force used, the study has suggested the body parts were removed from the dead once they were partially decomposed. Lovely.
It’s also suggested that the damage wasn’t due to animals due to the lack of bite and gnawing marks on the discovered bones.
Carbon dating shows the cave was in use over several millennia, from approximately 3900 to 3750 BCE, 2600 to 2300 BCE and 1400 to 1200 BCE.
So yeah, a really long time ago.
Dr Milella said: “This evidence points to complex actions, likely aimed at managing and facilitating the transition between life and death, as well as the social managing of loss of community members.
Discovering that buried human remains were used for both food and tools by other humans over various periods of time, he added: “This is really intriguing as it suggests shared ideologies surrounding the human body, and death, extending for millennia.”