Ancient human burials, Sally McBrearty
Interviewee: Sally McBrearty. Paleoanthropologist Sally McBrearty speaks about early modern-human burials and their characteristics. (DNAi Location: Applications > Human Origins > Comparisons > Behavior )
Whereas with modern people, anatomically modern Homo sapiens from somewhat later in time, you find artifacts that are definitely grave offerings. You find quantities of red ochre, which have been sprinkled over the skeleton, beads, and other kinds of objects, bone tools and things like that, which appear to have been placed in the grave with the person when they were interred. And there's really no doubt that they're deliberate burials. The evidence for the burial of the dead in Africa is very very spotty. There's one site in South Africa that's called Border Cave, where there are a number of burials, including the burial of an infant, with a little shell ornament, it's a pierced sea shell ornament, and the argument has been about whether that is in good stratographic context or whether it is an intrusive burial into earlier deposits. And so the age of that is not particularly well established. If it is in good context, then it's about 100,000 years old, and it is the earliest in Africa. There are early burials of anatomically modern Homo sapiens in Israel, from the site of Qafzeh. There is a modern human that probably dates to about the same time, about maybe 90,000 to 100,000 years ago.
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Paleoanthropologist Sally McBrearty speaks about early modern-human burials and their characteristics.
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