Monday, Oct 23 2017 | Time 00:44 Hrs(IST)
image
  • Slovenian president wins 47 pct in first election round-prelim result
  • Athletics-Bolt says he's serious about a soccer career
  • Go home, Tillerson tells Iranian-backed militias in Iraq
Science & Technology » Business & Society Share

Broken pebbles offer clues to Palaeolithic funeral rituals

Broken pebbles offer clues to Palaeolithic funeral rituals
Claudine Gravel-Miguel is with anthropologist Vitale Stefano Sparacello at the Arene Candide site in 2011

New Delhi, Feb 9 (UNI) Humans may have ritualistically "killed" objects to remove their symbolic power, some 5,000 years earlier than previously thought, a new international study of marine pebble tools from an Upper Palaeolithic burial site in Italy suggests.
Researchers at Université de Montréal, Arizona State University and University of Genoa examined 29 pebble fragments recovered in the Caverna delle Arene Candide on the Mediterranean Sea in Liguria.
In their study, published online in the Cambridge Archeological Journal, they concluded that some 12,000 years ago the flat, oblong pebbles were brought up from the beach, used as spatulas to apply ochre paste to decorate the dead, then broken and discarded.
The intent could have been to "kill" the tools, thereby "discharging them of their symbolic power" as objects that had come into contact with the deceased, said the study's co-author Julien Riel-Salvatore, an associate professor of anthropology at UdeM who directed the excavations at the site that yielded the pebbles.
The Arene Candide is a hockey-rink-sized cave containing a necropolis of some 20 adults and children.
It is located about 90 metres above the sea in a steep cliff overlooking a limestone quarry.
First excavated extensively in the 1940s, the cave is considered a reference site for the Neolithic and Palaeolithic periods in the western Mediterranean.
Until now, however, no one had looked at the broken pebbles.
"If our interpretation is correct, we've pushed back the earliest evidence of intentional fragmentation of objects in a ritual context by up to 5,000 years," said the study's lead author Claudine Gravel-Miguel, a PhD candidate at Arizona State's School of Human Evolution and Social Change, in Tempe.
"The next oldest evidence dates to the Neolithic period in Central Europe, about 8,000 years ago.
Ours date to somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 years ago, when people in Liguria were still hunter-gatherers.
" No matching pieces to the broken pebbles were found, prompting the researchers to hypothesize that the missing halves were kept as talismans or souvenirs.
"They might have signified a link to the deceased, in the same way that people today might share pieces of a friendship trinket, or place an object in the grave of a loved one," Riel-Salvatore said.
"It's the same kind of emotional connection.
" Between 2008 and 2013, the researchers painstakingly excavated in the Arene Candide cave immediately east of the original excavation using small trowels and dental tools, then carried out microscopic analysis of the pebbles they found there.
They also scoured nearby beaches in search of similar-looking pebbles, and broke them to see if they compared to the others, trying to determine whether they had been deliberately broken.
"This demonstrates the underappreciated interpretive potential of broken pieces," the new study concludes.
"Research programs on Palaeolithic interments should not limit themselves to the burials themselves, but also explicitly target material recovered from nearby deposits, since, as we have shown here, artefacts as simple as broken rocks can sometimes help us uncover new practices in prehistoric funerary canons.
" The findings could have implications for research at other Palaeolithic sites where ochre-painted pebbles have been found, such as the Azilian sites in the Pyrenee mountains of northern Spain and southern France.
Broken pebbles recovered during excavations often go unexamined, so it might be worth going back and taking a second look, said Riel-Salvatore.
UNI YSG SHS SNU 1608

Dengue

Dengue epidemic should be declared as 'Health disaster" in TN : DMK

Chennai, Oct 20 (UNI) The Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu today demanded that the outbreak of dengue epidemic in the state, which has claimed nearly 40 lives, should be declared as a 'Health disaster'.

Panacea

Panacea Biotec receives Manufacturing Authorisation for 22 medicinal products

Mumbai, Oct 17 (UNI)Panacea Biotec a leading biotechnology company said that it has received the Certificate of GMP Compliance from State Service of Ukraine on Medicines and Drugs Control with Manufacturing Authorization for 22 medicinal products, including 4 oncology products for a period valid till June 24, 2020.

UN

UN launches plan to stop transmission of bovine TB to humans

United Nations, Oct 13 (UNI) Stressing the damaging impact on poor rural communities in Africa and South-East Asia of animal tuberculosis’ (bovine TB) transmission to humans, United Nations health experts have launched the first-ever roadmap to combat the so-called zoonotic TB.

World

World will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022: WHO

Kolkata, Oct 12 (UNI) The number of obese children and adolescents (aged five to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades.

Int'l

Int'l breast cancer conference stresses on need for early diagnosis, awareness

New Delhi, Oct 7 (UNI) To promote awareness about breast cancer which is becoming the common cancer among women in the country, an international conference was inaugurated on Saturday.

Solar eclipse 2017: North America will witness total solar eclipse

Solar eclipse 2017: North America will witness total solar eclipse

New York, Aug 21 (UNI) Today, all of North America will witness a total solar eclipse for the first time in 99 years, where the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, casting darkness across swathes of the Earth's surface - with up to 14 states shrouded in complete blackout.

Nano-particle fertilizer could lead to new 'green revolution'

Nano-particle fertilizer could lead to new 'green revolution'

New Delhi, Jan 26 (UNI) Sri Lankan scientists report having developed a simple way to make a benign, more efficient fertilizer – described as nano-particle fertilizer - that could contribute to a second food revolution across the globe.

Broken pebbles offer clues to Palaeolithic funeral rituals

Broken pebbles offer clues to Palaeolithic funeral rituals

New Delhi, Feb 9 (UNI) Humans may have ritualistically "killed" objects to remove their symbolic power, some 5,000 years earlier than previously thought, a new international study of marine pebble tools from an Upper Palaeolithic burial site in Italy suggests.

image