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Thread: Human skulls next to slaughtered animals. Middle Neolithic (4800-4000 B.C.)

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    Human skulls next to slaughtered animals. Middle Neolithic (4800-4000 B.C.)

    Researchers from the University of Seville found two skulls and an infant goat in the scene of a funerary ritual of the Middle Neolithic (4800-4000 BC) during their campaigns in the Cueva de la Dehesilla.

    Jerez de la Frontera/Algar

    "This finding opens new lines of research and anthropological scenarios, where human and animal sacrifice may have been related to ancestral cults, propitiatory rituals and divine prayers in commemorative festivities," explains US researcher Daniel García Rivero.

    The archaeological deposit located in the Cueva de la Dehesilla consists of two skulls of adult humans, specifically of a woman and a man, the latter of more advanced age. The skull of the woman shows a depression in the frontal bone, which probably corresponds to an incomplete trepanation, as well as cuts in the occipital bone produced by decapitation. In addition, a wall has been found that delimits the human skulls and the skeleton of the goat, on one side, from a stone altar with a stele and a hearth, on the other.

    Finally, in the so-called Locus 2, several uniquely decorated ceramic vessels, some lithic objects and charred plant remains have been found. "This group of elements shows several characteristics that make it an exceptional archaeological find. The differential treatment of skulls with traumatological evidence together with sacrificed animals, as well as the archaeological structures and materials documented, do not correspond to the funerary record, let's say normative, that we knew so far," said the researcher.

    Human skulls found.

    This discovery is of great importance not only because of its peculiarity, but also because it constitutes a sealed ritual deposit, intact, which is a great opportunity to continue to approach in more detail the funerary and ritual behaviors of the Neolithic populations of the Peninsula," said Professor García Rivero.

    This work contributes in a special way to the knowledge of the funerary rituals of the central part of the 5th millennium B.C., the most unknown period to date of the Neolithic populations of the Iberian Peninsula as a whole. From that time, the scarce known funerary record shows mainly individual burials, being unusual the secondary burials and really extraordinary the type of context now found.

    The burials usually appear in habitat areas and are usually associated with remains of pottery and shells, as well as hearths, which reflect the importance of activities related to the use of fire, but without stone structures such as those now documented in the Sierra de Cádiz.

    The study and review of the entire funerary record of this chronological strip allows us to propose a sort of cultural mosaic in relation to the funerary and ritual traditions of these peasant and livestock populations, with a probable division between the Andalusian region and the eastern facade of the peninsula, "both areas that concentrate most of the data available today".

    The 2017 archaeological campaign in Cueva de la Dehesilla has had the financial support of various entities and programs of the University of Seville and the Research Centre for Anthropology and Health of the University of Coimbra.

    This research has been carried out within the framework of the projects High-resolution chronology and cultural evolution in the South of the Iberian Peninsula (circa 7000-4000 cal BC): a multiscalar approach, of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Cueva de la Dehesilla: Estudio arqueológico y paleoambiental para el conocimiento de la ocupación humana prehistórica de la Sierra de Cádiz, of the Consejería de Cultura y Patrimonio Histórico de la Junta de Andalucía.

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    Last edited by celtiberian-II; 17-03-21 at 17:20.

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