Eerie infant grave is oldest baby twin burial EVER found – dating back 31,000 years
THE oldest twin burial ever found may have been discovered in Austria, according to a new study.
The eerie grave contains the remains of two infant twins and dates back to 31,000 years ago.
That means the twins would have lived briefly during the Upper Palaeolithic, also called the Old Stone Age.
This period was around 50,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Analysis of both twins showed one died just after childbirth and the other lived for around 50 days before being buried beside its sibling.
A third infant was found buried nearby and could have been a cousin of the twins.
The two young babies were buried in an oval shaped grave on the bank of the Danube River.
This is now an archaeological site called Krems-Wachtberg.
They were actually found in 2005 but a new study has investigated their remains further.
A red pigment called ochre was used to cover the bodies of the twins and they were buried with 53 beads, some of which were made of mammoth ivory.
These beads were likely on a necklace originally.
A punctured fox tooth and three punctured mollusks were also found, which may have been on pendants before the string decayed away.
A mammoths shoulder blade was placed over the twins to protect their small bodies.
The nearby infant burial also involved ochre and a mammoth ivory pin thought to be used to tie a leather garment together.
The new study confirmed that the babies were in fact twins and also identical.
Lead researcher Maria Teschler-Nicola, from the Natural History Museum Vienna, said in the statement: "To discover a multiple burial from the Paleolithic period is a specialty in itself.
"The fact that sufficient and high-quality old DNA could be extracted from the fragile child's skeletal remains for a genome analysis exceeded all of our expectations and can be compared to a lottery ticket."
Genetic analysis did not reveal the sex of the baby twins but did reveal that the infant nearby was a boy.
The teeth of the twins were used to determine age and also revealed that they were breastfed.
Stress lines on the teeth of the infant nearby were said to suggest his mother may have had a breast infection that made feeding difficult or she may have even died in childbirth.
Both burials imply that all three infants were greatly cared for and their deaths probably would have been a great loss to the ancient community.
This research has been published online in the journal Communications Biology.
Upper Paleolithic period – the key facts
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Upper Paleolithic period is the third and last "subdivision" of the Paleolithic age
- It's better known as the Late Stone Age, and took place between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago
- It was followed by the Holocene, which is the current geological age
- Anatomically modern humans emerged from Africa around 200,000 years ago
- But it was only until 50,000 years ago that a marked increase in the diversity of human creations began
- The period also coincides with the extinction of the Neanderthals
- The Late Stone Age has the earliest known evidence of organised settlements like campsites
- We also saw a blossoming of artistic work, as well as evidence of fishing and specialised tool creation
In other archaeology news, the insides of Egyptian mummies found in 1615 have been revealed for the first time thanks to modern technology.
The 'biggest archaeological discovery of the year' will soon be announced by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
And, a sacrificed llama mummies have been dug up in Peru and they're almost perfectly preserved after 500 years.
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