“Oldest known cremation in the Middle East” is revealed to be a young adult who was injured by a flint projectile several months before their death in Israel 9,000 years ago
- Researchers revealed evidence of ancient cremation in northern Israel
- The find included the remains of a corpse that was deliberately set on fire
- The team says the cremation and remains the date between 7013 BC. and 6700 BC.
The oldest known cremation in the Middle East has been discovered and it happened 9,000 years ago after a young adult died after being hit by a flint projectile.
Researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research believe that the remains found in today’s Israel marked a cultural change of burial.
The excavations at the Neolithic site of Beisamoun in northern Israel revealed the ancient cremation pit dating back to between 7013 BC. and 6700 BC.
The remains of a corpse appear to have been intentionally cremated as part of a funeral practice and are the oldest known cremation example in the region.
This is a picture of the right coxal in situ – preserved almost completely by a piece of collapsed clay wall under the fire that burned the rest of the remains of the young adult
The person who was buried in the lighthouse was injured by a flint projectile several months before he died, who saw spectators in this entire leg.
The remains include parts of an entire skeleton of a young adult who was heated to a temperature above 932 degrees Fahrenheit shortly after death.
What was left of the legs belonging to the young person were feet, ribs, shoulder and part of a left arm – the rest had been burned without recognition.
The remains sit in a pit that appears to have been built with an open top and strong insulating walls, according to leading researcher Fanny Bocquentin.
Microscopic plant remains discovered inside the lighthouse are probably left from the fuel for the fire, according to the findings published in the journal PLOS One.
The evidence led the research team to identify it as a deliberate cremation of a new corpse, as opposed to the burning of dry remains or a tragic fire accident.
Dr Bocquentin said the cremation will take place during an important transition period in funeral practices in this region of the world.
“Old traditions were on the way out, such as the removal of the dead skull and their burial within the settlement, while the practice of cremation was new.”
To the left is a segment of the skeleton that remained from the burial center and to the right is a section of the site where the pier can be seen
“This change in the funeral procedure can also mean a transition in rituals around death and the importance of the deceased in society,” she said.
A further study of other possible cremation sites in the region will help highlight this important cultural shift.
“This is a redefinition of the place of the dead in the village and in the community.”
The results have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.