This was a child who lost his life about 78,000 years ago. His remains have been found in Africa. The find shows a semblance of human grief and the oldest burial in the world.
La tumba de Mtoto
The grave of a 3 year old Mesolithic boy was found in a cave in Kenya. At that time it is known as the Middle Ages of Stone. The article was published in the journal Nature. The child’s head appeared to have been placed on a pillow. Scientists gave it the name Mtoto, which means “the boy” in Swahili.
The international team of archaeologists carefully covered the entire grave pit with plaster of paris. So they kept the configuration of the remaining bone fragments. This enabled them to safely transport the body to a laboratory for detailed examination.
“It was like digging a shadow,” said Professor María Martinón Torres. She is the director of the National Center for Research on Human Evolution in Spain (CENIEH). “We didn’t know we were carrying a child in our arms,” he said.
Scientists were able to examine the teeth to confirm it was the small body of an underage person. He was between 2 and 3 years old. Scans showed that the body had been placed in a fetal position. And the bones had been tampered with so that they were tightly wrapped before the funeral. His head rested on a pillow originally made of leaves that later decomposed.
“We believe the child was wrapped in a shroud made of animal hide or leaves. As if they had put him to sleep, ”explained Professor Martinón Torres. «There is a lot of delicacy. The intent really expresses the group’s feelings towards the minor.
Sense of loss
Further study of the size and shape of the bone fragments led the team to conclude that Mtoto was most likely male. “They buried him in a cave where these people lived,” said Martinón Torres. All of this behavior meant something. Maybe a shame, maybe I didn’t want to let him go.
Africa is considered to be the cradle of modern mankind. There are references to the primitive use of tools and community life. However, scientists say the burials were an important missing piece in the history of human evolution on this continent.
“The next oldest grave in Africa is about 74,000 years old.” This was confirmed by Dr. Louise Humphrey of the Natural History Museum in London explains. “It is noticeable that it was also from a minor. But it was badly excavated about 50 years ago, so we don’t know much about it. “So this is the oldest funeral in the world.
“There is definitely a sense of personal loss here,” he added. “It is evidence of a people who had a more symbolic representation of the world around them.”