Scientists find oldest human remains in Flanders

26th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

A fragment of a collarbone excavated near Kruibeke and estimated to be more than six thousand years old, is the oldest piece of human remains ever to be discovered in Flanders. The human bone, found in River Scheldt deposists, could have been part of a grave or belonged simply to a corpse left behind in its natural surroundings. Another option is that it could have been deliberately thrown into the river as part of a prehistoric ritual. The collarbone possibly belonged to an adult male living between 4 720 and 4 546 BC, the Flemish public service VIOE previously the Flemish Institute for Cultural Heritage confirmed. The bone fragment, found during work on a natural floodplain near Kruibeke last year, formed part of a find that also includes animal remains and tools. Following carbon dating tests by the University of Ghent and the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, the bone was estimated to date from the transitional period between the middle to new Stone Age, a time when humans evolved from hunter-gatherers to agriculturists. Similar sites from the same time have been found in Flanders, but none of these contained human remains. The oldest remains found at the Kruibeke site include numerous bones of hunting game such as ancient bovine animals, deer and wild boar dating back to  5 200 BC. According to the researchers, this indicates that the bounty was divided at the site, with the best pieces taken with and the offal thrown into the Scheldt. The later remains date back to between 4 300 and 3 700 BC and contain bones belonging to domestic animals like pigs, cattle and sheep, the oldest ever found in Flanders. Grains of wheat were also discovered among the bones.

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