Researchers Discover 78,000-Year-Old Human Burial, Oldest in Africa
AFP 2021 / JORGE GONZALEZ/ELENA SANTOSTech03:59 GMT 07.05.2021Get short URLby Daria Bedenko
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Among the oldest meaningful human burials in the world are discoveries of bones of a mother and her child at Qafzeh cave in Nazareth, Israel, along with other findings in Europe and Asia thought to date back 120,000 years.
Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be Africa’s oldest human burial, the remains of a three-year-old child laid to rest around 78,000 years ago, according to the research published in Nature journal on Wednesday.
The child’s grave was discovered at the mouth of the Panga ya Saidi cave site along the coastline of southeastern Kenya. The bones were found in 2013, but scientists did not realize the scale of what they discovered until 2017.
The buried toddler was nicknamed “Mtoto”, which is “child” in Swahili. According to the scientists, the remains turned out to be “astonishingly preserved”.
The researchers said that Mtoto’s body was found lying on the right side with knees drawn toward the chest – something that represents a tightly shrouded burial with deliberate preparation. Martinón-Torres noted that “the position and collapse of the head in the pit suggested that a perishable support may have been present, such as a pillow, indicating that the community may have undertaken some form of funerary rite.”
While the Kenyan site where Mtoto was laid to rest can be Africa’s oldest burial site, scientists around the world discovered have sites that are believed to be between 90,000 and 130,000 years old.