Archaeologists find evidence of cremation in Israel 9,000 years ago

Hyperaxion Aug 13, 2020

The remains probably belonged to a young adult and may have been heated to temperatures of over 500°C.

Excavations at the Neolithic site of Beisamoun, in northern Israel, revealed the incinerated remains of a person who lived between 7,013 and 6,700 BC – the oldest known cremation in the Near East.

Archaeologists find evidence of cremation in Israel 9,000 years ago
(Credit: Bocquentin et al, 2020 (PLOS ONE, CC BY)).

The research, led by Fanny Bocquentin of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), was published this week in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The bones were found inside a pit and probably belonged to a young adult. According to the scientists, the microscopic remains of plants found at the site indicate that they were used as “fuel” for the fire, suggesting that the cremation was intentional.

Part of the Neolithic site of Beisamoun, Israel.
Part of the Neolithic site of Beisamoun, Israel. (Credit: Mission Beisamoun).

The cremation took place during an important period of transition for funeral practices in the region. Old traditions were in decline, such as the removal of the skull from the dead and burial in settlements, while practices like cremation became more common.

The cremated person had a flint projectile injury. (Credit: Mission Beisamoun).

These changes indicate that, even then, funerary rituals were of great importance to people. “The funerary treatment involved in situ cremation within a pyre-pit of a young adult individual who previously survived from a flint projectile injury,” Bocquentin explained. “This is a redefinition of the place of the dead in the village and in society.”

Related topics:

Cremation Israel

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