February 21, 2013

Early modern human burials in Eurasia

Early human burials varied widely but most were simple
"We don't know why some of these burials were so ornate, but what's striking is that they postdate the arrival of modern humans in Eurasia by almost 10,000 years," said Julien Riel-Salvatore, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at CU Denver and lead author of the study. "When they appear around 30,000 years ago some are lavish but many aren't and over time the most elaborate ones almost disappear. So, the behavior of humans does not always go from simple to complex; it often waxes and wanes in terms of its complexity depending on the conditions people live under."

The study, which examined 85 burials from the Upper Paleolithic period, found that men were buried more often than women. Infants were buried only sporadically, if at all in later periods, a difference that could be related to changes in subsistence, climate and the ability to keep babies alive, Riel-Salvatore said.

It also showed that a few ornate burials in Russia, Italy and the Czech Republic dating back nearly 30,000 years are anomalies, and not representative of most early Homo sapiens burial practices in Eurasia.


shenandoah said...

Two points that I would make: Most importantly, specific complex ~behaviors (particularly those in the form of ~rituals) is not necessarily correlated to intellectual depth, health, education, or advanced development. It could simply be caused by mindless, ~subconscious Obsessive / Compulsive drives, instead. In other words, it might be more reactionary than well-planned or justified.

Pagan burial practices usually involved the addition of treasure and tools and preserved bodies for important individuals to supposedly use in the afterlife. There is no real logic to that behavior, so I don't consider it to be more advanced at all.

Dr Rob said...

Lavish burials should not automaticaly be equated with higher progress society. IN fact, lavish burials appear in times of stress, when lower order nobility try to assert their prowess. When there is more established order, and clear rule, there is no need to 'show off' with well furnished burials

Va_Highlander said...

"Lavish burials should not automaticaly be equated with higher progress society."

Indeed. In the lowest levels of Mehrgarh, in Baluchistan, grave goods could be quite elaborate but in subsequent periods the amount of goods decreased, even as their culture became increasingly complex.