The exceptional discovery of burials about 9,000 years old - probably containing the oldest human remains ever found in Corsica (France) - will allow a better understanding of the history of early settlement of the island and of the Mediterranean.
On a hill near the village of Sollacaro, Southern Corsica, nestled under a huge ball-shaped block of eroded granite which served as a shelter for prehistoric peoples, the location has been excavated by a team of archaeologists from several French universities, assisted by a Danish colleague.
"It is evidence of human presence on the island during the Mesolithic period (from 10,000 to 5000 BCE)," said Joseph Cesari, regional curator of archaeological and historic monuments, in presenting the discovery this week. Having uncovered the bones of four or five adults, a teenager, and a baby spread over an area of a few square meters on the site of Campo Stefano during the past several months, efforts in recent weeks have revealed the almost complete skeleton of another adult.
Patrice Courtaud - palaeontologist and researcher at CNRS and a specialist in Bordeaux Mesolithic burial practices, said, "...there are very few multiple burials, particularly in Corsica", adding that, "We still know little about the people of the Mesolithic, a period marking the beginning of agricultural settlement". If researchers can extract DNA from bones, this will "help to further our knowledge of genetics, nutrition and lifestyle in general," says Courtaud