Archaeology: Highly decorated 10,000-year-old burial of an infant GIRL dubbed ...

Archaeology: Highly decorated 10,000-year-old burial of an infant GIRL dubbed ...
Archaeology: Highly decorated 10,000-year-old burial of an infant GIRL dubbed ...

Archaeologists working in a cave in Italy have unearthed a highly decorated, 10,000-year-old burial of an infant girl — the oldest of its kind known from Europe.

The hunter-gatherer child, nicknamed 'Neve', was adorned with shell beads and an eagle-owl talon, reported the team led from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Neve was first discovered in the Arma Veirana cave in the Ligurian pre-Alps back in 2017, and then painstakingly excavated the following year.

Few burials are known from the early Mesolithic, the experts noted, adding that the new findings are proof of the egalitarian nature of funerary treatment at the time.

Archaeologists working in a cave in Italy have unearthed a highly decorated, 10,000-year-old burial of an infant girl — the oldest of its kind known from Europe. Pictured: paleoanthropologist Jamie Hodgkins (second from left) and colleagues at the burial site

Archaeologists working in a cave in Italy have unearthed a highly decorated, 10,000-year-old burial of an infant girl — the oldest of its kind known from Europe. Pictured: paleoanthropologist Jamie Hodgkins (second from left) and colleagues at the burial site

The hunter-gatherer child, nicknamed 'Neve', was adorned with shell beads and an eagle-owl talon, reported the team led from the University of Colorado, Denver. Pictured: an illustration of the burial, showing the location of the shell beads, pendants and Neve's remains

The hunter-gatherer child, nicknamed 'Neve', was adorned with shell beads and an eagle-owl talon, reported the team led from the University of Colorado, Denver. Pictured: an illustration of the burial, showing the location of the shell beads, pendants and Neve's remains 

Neve was first discovered in the Arma Veirana cave (pictured) in the Ligurian pre-Alps back in 2017, and then painstakingly excavated the following year

Neve was first discovered in the Arma Veirana cave (pictured) in the Ligurian pre-Alps back in 2017, and then painstakingly excavated the following year

Arma Veirana is a popular spot in north-western Italy, not only among local families, but also looters — whose digging exposed the late Ice Age tools that first brought the cave to the attention of archaeologists in 2015.

The team spent their first two seasons working near the mouth of the cave, unearthing tools from 50,000 years ago, but were intrigued by the discovery of younger implements that appeared to be eroding out from deeper into the cave.

It was as they began to explore these layers of sediment further into the cave that the team began to unearthed a number of pierced shell beads — which soon led to the discovery of part of Neve's skullcap by anthropologist Claudine Gravel-Miguel.

'I was excavating in the adjacent square and remember looking over and thinking "that's a weird bone",' said the Arizona State University expert.

'It quickly became clear that not only we were looking at a human cranium, but that it was also of a very young individual. It was an emotional day.' 

LOOKING INTO THE WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE STONE AGE 

The researchers were able to determine Neve's sex based on a combination of amelogenin protein and ancient DNA analysis.

In fact, they were able to connect her to a lineage of European women known as the 'U5b2b haplogroup'.

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Studies of Neve's teeth indicated that she was likely only 40–50 days old when she died — and had experienced stress in the womb, with the team having found signs that her teeth had temporarily stopped growing both 47 and 28 days before birth.

In addition, carbon and nitrogen analyses of the teeth indicated that, while she

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