New funerary and ritual behaviors of the Neolithic Iberian populations discovered

Impression: Cranium uncovered in the Cueva de la Dehesilla
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Credit: Universidad de Sevilla

Experts from the Division of Prehistory and Archaeology of the College of Seville have just published a examine in the prestigious journal PLOS Just one on an critical archaeological obtain in the Cueva de la Dehesilla (Cádiz). Specifically, two human skulls and a juvenile goat were identified alongside with various archaeological structures and resources from a funerary ritual from the Center Neolithic interval (4800-4000 BC) hitherto not known in the Iberian Peninsula.

“This getting opens new traces of investigate and anthropological situations, exactly where human and animal sacrifice may have been related to ancestral cults, propitiatory rituals and divine prayers in commemorative festivities,” points out US researcher Daniel García Rivero.

The archaeological internet site located in the Cueva de la Dehesilla consists of two grownup human skulls, one particular male one particular feminine, the previous staying more mature. The feminine skull exhibits a depression in the frontal bone, which possibly will come from an incomplete trepanation, as very well as cuts in the occipital bone produced by decapitation. In addition, a wall was uncovered separating the human skulls and the skeleton of the goat, on the one particular hand, from a stone altar with a stele and a hearth, on the other. Finally, numerous uniquely adorned ceramic vessels, some lithic objects and charred plant remains were identified in the so-called Locus two.

“These elements show various properties that make it an fantastic archaeological obtain. The differential therapy of skulls with traumatological evidence alongside with sacrificed animals, as very well as the documented archaeological structures and resources do not match the normative funerary record we were performing with till now. This discovery is of excellent importance not only simply because of its peculiarity, but also simply because it constitutes a sealed, intact ritual deposit, which is a excellent opportunity to get a additional detailed perception into the funerary and ritual behaviours of the Neolithic populations of the Iberian Peninsula”, emphasises professor García Rivero.

Neolithic funeral rituals

This function contributes in a unique way to the knowledge of the funerary rituals of the center component of the 5th millennium before Christ, at the moment the least very well regarded interval of the Neolithic populations of the Iberian Peninsula as a whole. The scarce funerary record from that time exhibits fundamentally unique burials, with secondary burials staying uncommon. The sort of context just identified is definitely remarkable. Burials commonly come about in locations of habitat, and are primarily connected with remains of ceramics and shells, as very well as homes, which mirror the importance of routines related to the use of hearth, but devoid of stone structures like those now documented in the mountains of Cádiz.

The examine and evaluation of the whole funerary record of this interval will allow us to present a kind of cultural mosaic in relation to the funerary and ritual traditions of these peasant and herding populations, with a possible division involving the Andalusian region and the japanese seaboard of the peninsula, the two regions exactly where most knowledge is accessible nowadays.

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The 2017 archaeological marketing campaign in Cueva de la Dehesilla obtained economic assistance from various entities and programmes at the College of Seville and the Investigation Centre for Anthropology and Overall health at the College of Coimbra. This investigate was carried out inside the framework of the jobs ‘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.

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