Scientists working on an archaeological site in northern Israel have found evidence that ancient societies cremated their dead as far back as 9,000 years ago.
Researchers came across a charred corpse in a pyre-pit specifically designed for cremation at the Neolithic site of Beisamoun, dating both the skeleton and fragments of plants burned at the same time.
The open pit with strong insulating walls was revealed as scientists showed from the bones that the adult male was cremated at a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius shortly after death.
Publishing their findings in PLOS ONE, the French researchers said the work “redefines the place of the dead” in villages and societies at that time.
Other charred corpses from the period have been found, but they are presumed to have died in fires, whereas the Beisamoun discovery is the first to show intentional cremation this far back.
It shows the evolving nature of human funerary rites, earlier peoples having removed the cranium before in-settlement burial.
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