Scientists have discovered the oldest evidence of human burials — a child laid to rest in a grave 80,000 years ago in modern-day Kenya.
Africa is home to the earliest signs of modern human behaviour, but evidence of early burials in the continent is scarce and often ambiguous. Therefore, little is known about the origin and development of mortuary practices of our species.
Archaeologists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany and the National Museums of Kenya found a child buried at the mouth of the Panga ya Saidi cave site which reveals how Middle Stone Age populations interacted with the dead. Panga ya Saidi has been an important site for human origins research since excavations began in 2010.
Portions of the child’s bones were first found during excavations at Panga ya Saidi in 2013, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the small pit feature containing the bones was fully exposed.