A stone age child’s grave in Finland reveals surprises

A stone age child’s grave in Finland reveals surprises

A stone age child’s grave in Finland reveals surprises

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The burial site of an 8,000-year-old infant has been discovered in eastern Finland, providing a rare glimpse into how Stone Age people treated their dead.

Majunsuo’s tomb first attracted researchers’ attention in 1992 in Outokumpu Municipality when bright red ochre, an iron-rich clay, was spotted on the surface of a new maintenance trail in the forest. Red ocher has been associated with rock art as well as decoration and burials.

The Finnish Heritage Agency began excavating in 2018 due to concerns about erosion and vehicular traffic.

Little was found in the tomb, but the surrounding soil revealed its secrets in a recent microscopic analysis published in the journal in September. PLoS One:.

A stone age child’s grave in Finland reveals surprises

Stone Age societies in Finland buried their dead in pits in the ground. The soil in Finland is so acidic that little remains after thousands of years, meaning that traces of archaeological evidence are extremely rare.

A child’s teeth were found in the grave, along with fragments of bird feathers, plant fibers and strands of dog hair after painstaking protocol analysis to reveal the microscopic evidence.

Together, these signs paint a portrait of the deceased.

The scientists found that the teeth belonged to a 3- to 10-year-old child. Two quartz arrowheads and two other quartz objects, believed to be grave objects, were also found.

About 24 small feather fragments were found, seven of which are associated with waterfowl. They represent the oldest feather fragments ever found in Finland. The child may have been laid on a bed made of feathers, or the child may have been wrapped in waterfowl clothing, such as an old parka or anorak.

Also found in the grave was a falcon feather, believed to be part of an arrowhead, possibly formerly attached to an arrowhead or used as an ornament on a child’s clothing.

The thin hair found near the child’s legs belonged to either a dog or a wolf. One may have been buried at the child’s feet, or the child may have worn boots made of dog or wolf fur.

This image shows possible dog hair from a grave, viewed under an electron microscope.

“Dogs have been found buried with the deceased, for example, at Skætholm, a well-known burial site in southern Sweden that dates back to about 7,000 years ago,” said study co-author Kristina Mannermaa, associate professor at the University of Helsinki’s Department of Cultures. statement.

“Majunsuo’s discovery is sensational, although nothing remains of the animal or animals except hair, not even teeth. We don’t even know if it’s a dog or a wolf. The method used shows that traces of fur and feathers can be found even in graves several thousand years old, including in Finland.

The study’s lead author, Tujja Kirkinen, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki, conducted an analysis of plant and animal matter in the soil.

The team collected 60 bags of soil samples and carefully separated the organic matter from the soil using water. Three laboratories were used to look for microparticles, fatty acids and soil analysis in the samples. Soil stained with red ocher should be gently sifted and carefully examined using electron microscopes and high-quality images.

He works Animals create an identity projectLed by Mannermaa. The research team examines “human-animal social connections at hunter-gatherer burial sites” in northeastern Europe. These links may unlock more insights into the deceased who lived between 7,500 and 9,000 years ago. Kirkinen’s work focuses on developing methods for finding small remains that help share ancient stories.

Kirkinen also found plant fibers, probably derived from willow or nettle, which could have been used to make fishing nets, cords used to fasten bundles of clothes or threads. His protocol for searching for fibers and debris in the soil took time, but it paid off.

“The work is really slow, and it really made my heart skip a beat when I found tiny fragments of clothing and grave furnishings from the past, especially in Finland, where all unburnt bones tend to decay,” he said.

“All this gives us a very valuable insight into burial practices in the Stone Age, showing how people prepared the child for the journey after death.”

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