New funerary and ritual behaviors of the Neolithic Iberian populations discovered


Graphic: Cranium located in the Cueva de la Dehesilla
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Credit history: Universidad de Sevilla

Gurus from the Section of Prehistory and Archaeology of the College of Seville have just published a study in the prestigious journal PLOS 1 on an significant archaeological obtain in the Cueva de la Dehesilla (Cádiz). Especially, two human skulls and a juvenile goat ended up discovered together with different archaeological buildings and resources from a funerary ritual from the Middle Neolithic interval (4800-4000 BC) hitherto unknown in the Iberian Peninsula.

“This finding opens new lines of investigation and anthropological situations, the place human and animal sacrifice may well have been related to ancestral cults, propitiatory rituals and divine prayers in commemorative festivities,” points out US researcher Daniel García Rivero.

The archaeological web-site positioned in the Cueva de la Dehesilla is composed of two grownup human skulls, 1 male 1 female, the previous currently being older. The female cranium shows a depression in the frontal bone, which in all probability comes from an incomplete trepanation, as nicely as cuts in the occipital bone made by decapitation. In addition, a wall was located separating the human skulls and the skeleton of the goat, on the 1 hand, from a stone altar with a stele and a fireplace, on the other. Finally, various uniquely adorned ceramic vessels, some lithic objects and charred plant stays ended up discovered in the so-referred to as Locus two.

“These aspects screen different traits that make it an outstanding archaeological obtain. The differential procedure of skulls with traumatological proof together with sacrificed animals, as nicely as the documented archaeological buildings and resources do not match the normative funerary record we ended up functioning with until finally now. This discovery is of great value not only mainly because of its peculiarity, but also mainly because it constitutes a sealed, intact ritual deposit, which is a great option to obtain a far more thorough insight into the funerary and ritual behaviours of the Neolithic populations of the Iberian Peninsula”, emphasises professor García Rivero.

Neolithic funeral rituals

This perform contributes in a unique way to the know-how of the funerary rituals of the middle part of the 5th millennium right before Christ, at the moment the minimum nicely acknowledged interval of the Neolithic populations of the Iberian Peninsula as a complete. The scarce funerary record from that time shows basically specific burials, with secondary burials currently being unconventional. The type of context just discovered is truly incredible. Burials normally occur in locations of habitat, and are largely affiliated with stays of ceramics and shells, as nicely as properties, which reflect the value of activities related to the use of fire, but without having stone buildings like these now documented in the mountains of Cádiz.

The study and critique of the entire funerary record of this interval allows us to present a variety of cultural mosaic in relation to the funerary and ritual traditions of these peasant and herding populations, with a possible division between the Andalusian area and the jap seaboard of the peninsula, the two regions the place most info is readily available now.


The 2017 archaeological marketing campaign in Cueva de la Dehesilla gained economic help from different entities and programmes at the College of Seville and the Investigate Centre for Anthropology and Health and fitness at the College of Coimbra. This investigation was carried out within just the framework of the initiatives ‘High-resolution chronology and cultural evolution in the South of the Iberian Peninsula (circa 7000-4000 cal BC): a multiscalar approach’, of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

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