Scientists announced that they have found the world’s oldest known cemetery in South Africa. It was stated that the remains belonged to primates, Homo naledi. The research team led by renowned paleoanthropologist Prof. Lee Berger, who found the remains about 30 meters underground in the cave, said this discovery could provide important information about human evolution.
Commenting on the findings, Berger said, “These predate the remains of Homo sapiens graves by at least 100,000 years. They may be the oldest graves in the hominin record.”
Palaeontologists in South Africa said Monday they have found the oldest known burial site in the world, containing remains of a small-brained distant relative of humans previously thought incapable of complex behaviour.https://t.co/giAtH18Bjc pic.twitter.com/Rg2PKDStg6— AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 5, 2023
OLDEST CEMETERY FOUND
The cemetery was found in the Republic of South Africa at a paleoanthropological site called the Cradle of Humankind. The oldest graves in the world were previously thought to be located in the Middle East and Africa and were thought to be about 100,000 years old. However, the bones found in this cemetery are between 236,000 and 335,000 years old.
Until now, burying the dead has been associated with Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. This discovery is expected to change the perspective on evolutionary theory and shed light on the complex structure in which the human brain evolved. As a result of the research, it was determined that the pits in the cemetery were deliberately dug to bury the bodies.
“This suggests not only that humans are not unique in the development of symbolic practices, but also the possibility that they may not have invented such behavior,” Berger said. Berger’s remarks will ruffle feathers in the world of paleontology, AFP reported.
Homo naledi, which emerged in the Pleistocene Epoch about 335 thousand years ago, is an archaic human species that became extinct 236 thousand years ago. It is known that the brain of this species was small compared to modern humans. The brain size of Homo naledi is one-third of that of Homo sapiens.
The remains of the species were first found in 2013. Speaking about the remains discovered in the Rising Star cave system, Berger suggested that the small-brained Homo naledi did more work than previously thought.