Neanderthals did bury the dead?

Archaeologists have discovered the upper part of the skeleton of the Neanderthal age of about 70 thousand years. A find, which scientists have named Shanidar Z, was made in the crack in the cave Shanidar in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Archaeologists have shown that it is one of the few remains of Neanderthals that have survived in the original anatomical position. But most important, scientists have collected evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead relatives.

Explain that the cave Shanidar known since 1950-ies. That’s where archaeologist Ralph Soletskiy (Ralph Solecki) first discovered the skeletons of Neanderthals, whose age was estimated at the time 45 thousand years.

Just then found partial remains of 10 men, women and children. Some of the bodies were grouped. In addition, near one of the skeleton scientists found clumps of pollen that surrounded the body of the deceased. It brought experts to the idea that the body was deliberately placed in the grave and he laid the flowers down.

the So-called “flower burial” forced to reconsider entrenched in those years, the idea of Neanderthals as beings, more like animals than people. Finding the grave “with flowers”, the researchers came to the conclusion that they were more intellectually developed beings.

neanderthals did bury the dead 1Ralph Soletskiy (in this photo, 1960 on the left) died in March 2019 at the age of 101 years. Despite several attempts, he was not able to continue excavations at the site, which brought him worldwide fame.Photo by Ralph S. Solecki and Rose L. papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.

However, in the 1950s and 1960s the idea that Neanderthals buried the dead, were not fully confirmed by the facts. So, skeptics have suggested that the flowers or the pollen could be brought to the remains of rodents that dig holes.

the Author of a new study of Emma Pomeroy (Emma Pomeroy) from Cambridge University.reteta also adds that some workers who helped in the excavations, carried into the cave flowers.

“it Was a lot of doubt, so people began very skeptical [to relate to this opinion],” she explains.

Soletskiy resumed excavations in 2014, but after a couple of days they had to suspend because of the threat of a military attack (recall that the work was carried out in Iraqi Kurdistan). The researchers did not expect to find more remains of Neanderthals.

However, in 2016, a team of archaeologists have discovered in the deepest part of the crack first rib, and later lumbar vertebrae and bone as if compressed right hand.

neanderthals did bury the dead 2the Spine of a Neanderthal in a small piece of the surrounding sedimentary rocks.Photo By Graeme Barker.

the Final stage of the works were completed in 2018-2019, when scientists were able to extract ancient rocks first tapered skull of a Neanderthal, and then the upper half of the body almost to the waist. Interestingly, the left hand was folded in a position as if the Neanderthal man used his fist as a pillow. As we have said, the bones of the deceased were in their original anatomical position that is not as common (former findings were made in 2006-2007 and 2010, however, these remains have been preserved better).

neanderthals did bury the dead 3figure position, which was the upper body of a Neanderthal. At the head of the deceased were also stone.Illustration Emma Pomeroy.

Apparently, the lower part of the body was extracted from the earth along with the block that contained the remains called Shanidar 4. Their archaeologists have taken for the study in 1960.

Command Pomeroy suggests that legs and feet could at the time mistakenly “ascribe” the skeleton called Shanidar 6. Accurate information from the scientists there, as during vergetion of the United States in Iraq in 2003, many of the remains were lost.

a Preliminary analysis showed that the upper part of the skeleton found in 2019, more than 70 thousand years. Gender of the deceased has not yet been determined, but relatively abraded teeth, scientists have suggested that at death the Neanderthal man was in middle age or older.

several facts pointed to the fact that it was buried intentionally. In particular, a layer of sediment around the skeleton is markedly different from what was below.

“The [layer] in which lay the bones were much darker,” says Pomeroy.

moreover, the soil layer under the body showed signs that dug earth.

“If you imagine digging a grave or pit, you will understand that under the [layer] that you take out, there is a compression of the earth, because you push against it [the shovel],” explains Pomeroy.

neanderthals did bury the dead 4the Excavation was conducted in the cave Shanidar in Iraqi Kurdistan.Photo Hardscarf/Wikimedia Commons.

a Team of archaeologists found that the soil beneath the body was compressed, which was not observed in deeper layer. This, according to experts, is proof that the grave was dug on purpose, and then it was placed the body.

“the New excavations have shown that some of these bodies were placed in the natural channel in the floor of the cave, which was done by the water. It then deliberately made deeper, adds one of the authors Professor Graeme Barker (Graeme Barker) from the Institute of archaeology MacDonald at the University of Cambridge. – We have preliminary evidence that Shanidar Z was intentionally buried.”

it is unclear whether the remains to a new individual or one of the previous finds, some of which are also incomplete. This question will help clarify DNA analysis, which will potentially be able to identify the kinship between the cellarthe data (DNA molecules poorly stored in a hot climate, so paleogenetic can’t judge that for sure).

currently, archaeologists are studying discovered in the cave of Shanidar the remains with the help of modern technology in the laboratories of Cambridge University. It is expected that they will allow not only to study ancient DNA and to determine the methods of burial used by the Neanderthals.

neanderthals did bury the dead 5Archaeologist Emma Pomeroy excavations in the cave Shanidar.Photo By Graeme Barker.

we would Add that the people buried their dead over the last 100 thousand years. “Cousins” could learn from this ritual people or “reinvent” yourself. But it is known that the species overlap in those days, when the cave was made Shanidar data of burial.

Scientific article on the results of a study published in the journal Antiquity.

Previously, the authors of the project “News.Science” ( wrote that Homo erectus became extinct much later than previously thought, and new discoveries in Algeria, which change the story of human origins.

Text: To.Science