How did the Neanderthals deal with their dead? The Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan unveiled a skeleton that could help archeologists understand more on this subject.
Ten different fragments of skeletons were found in the Flower Burial back in the 1950s and 1960s, and among them on stands out. One set of bones presents clumps of pollen mixed in with the surrounding dirt.
The death rituals of the Neanderthals
The specific skeleton shows how Neanderthals buried their dead, which is with flowers. This theory contradicts previous beliefs of them being very uncivilized in an animalistic way.
This discovery could be due to the deposit of the pollen by an animal. Scientists have named this skeleton Shanidar Z. There is also a possibility that this so-called new skeleton could be part of the ten fragments found in the past.
“So much research on how Neanderthals treated their dead has to involve returning to finds from 60 or even 100 years ago when archaeological techniques were more limited, and that only ever gets you so far,” said archaeologist Emma Pomeroy of Cambridge University in the UK.
“To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death, and whether they were similar to our own.”
The bones are 70,000 years old, and after testing its teeth, scientists say that it looks to belong to a 30 or 40 years old person.
What does the position of the skeletons suggest?
“The new excavation suggests that some of these bodies were laid in a channel in the cave floor created by water, which had then been intentionally dug to make it deeper,” said archaeologist Graeme Barker of Cambridge University.
“There is strong early evidence that Shanidar Z was deliberately buried,” he added. You can find more about this research in Antiquity, an academic journal.