Italy: Mesolithic baby burial discovered, the oldest in Europe

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Response from Italy for ERT: Christian Mavris

Neve (Snow). This is the name given by archaeologists to the baby discovered in Liguria, the oldest baby burial in Europe. A burial of the early Mesolithic era, ie 10 thousand years old.

The discovery was published in the remarkable “Scientific Report” of the well-known journal Nature. The burial took place in the Arma Veirana cave in Erli, in the province of Savona in Liguria in northwestern Italy, and DNA and tooth tests show that it is an infant just 40 to 50 days old.

According to the newspaper La Repubblica, along with the remains of the newborn were found a kit consisting of more than 60 beads in perforated shells, four perforated pendants made of fragments of bivalves and an owl nail.

The discovery and research is the result of many years of work and collaborations between various universities, from Italy (Bologna, Genoa, Ferrara) to the USA, Canada and Germany. This is an important discovery, since – scientists point out in La Repubblica – it is very rare to find well-preserved tombs like this, right after the end of the last ice age.

As Professor Stefano Benazzi of the University of Bologna explains, “understanding how our ancestors treated the dead is of great cultural importance and allows us to explore both their behaviors and their ideological aspects.”

“This discovery – the Professor continues – allows us to investigate an extraordinary burial rite of the first phase of the Mesolithic era, of which few burials are known, and testifies that all members of the community, even babies, were recognized as complete people and they obviously enjoyed equal treatment ”. He notes that “this is why the discovery of Neve will help us fill many gaps, shedding light on the ancient social structure and burial and ritual behavior of our ancestors.”

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