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Re: Homo sapiens idaltu

On Thu, 12 Jun 2003 Kimba4evr@aol.com wrote:
> "White said two of the skulls appear to have been scraped clean of
> flesh, suggesting an ancient mortuary practice, or possibly
> cannibalism."
> Isn't it possible, or even likely, that these individuals at the time
> of death had been buried as a funerary practice resulting in
> unreliable dating if the age was based on the sedimentation they were
> found in?  Is carbon dating still possible at this age?

>From the background info page at Berkeley:


The more fragmentary adult cranium from Herto shows parallel incisions
around the perimeter of the skull. These superficial cut marks were made
by a stone tool that was repeatedly drawn across the skull's surface.
These marks differ in placement and orientation from those that made by
defleshing with stone tools. They reveal some form of ancient mortuary
practice. The child's cranium is even more intriguing in this regard.
Here, cutmarks made by a very sharp stone flake were found deep in nooks
and crannies of the skull's base. The rear part of the cranial base was
broken away, and the broken edges polished. The sides of the skull show a
deep polish that may have formed from repeated handling of the skull after
it was defleshed.

Anthropologists have found similar bone modifications in societies where
the skulls of ancestors are curated (preserved) and worshipped. This
pattern of modification to the Herto crania appears to constitute evidence
of organized and prolonged mortuary ritual, whereas the 600,000-year-old
Bodo skull (also from the Middle Awash) displays cutmarks associated with
tissue removal, but no evidence of polishing.

It is clear that the modifications on the Herto crania were made by other
hominids when the bone was fresh (before fossilization). However,
according to the scientists it is impossible to establish whether the
flesh or brains of the deceased were consumed as part of a cannibalistic
ritual. Similarly modified skulls were collected among tribespeople of New
Guinea during the last century.