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Upper Palaeolithic infant burials

Naturevolume 444page285 (2006) | Download Citation



Decorations on the bodies of newborns indicate that they were probably important in their community.

Several adult graves from the Stone Age (Upper Palaeolithic period) have been found but child burials seem to be rare, which has prompted discussion about whether this apparently different treatment of infants could be significant1,2. Here we describe two recently discovered infant burials from this period at Krems-Wachtberg in Lower Austria, in which the bodies were covered with red ochre and decorated with ornaments and were therefore probably ritually buried. These findings indicate that even newborns were considered to be full members of these hunter−gatherer communities about 27,000 years ago.

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Author information


  1. Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 1010, Austria

    • Thomas Einwögerer
    • , Herwig Friesinger
    • , Marc Händel
    • , Christine Neugebauer-Maresch
    •  & Ulrich Simon
  2. Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum Vienna, Vienna, 1010, Austria

    • Maria Teschler-Nicola


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christine Neugebauer-Maresch.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Figure 1

    Krems-Wachtberg 2005: View into the excavation pit from the east. (PDF 196 kb)

  2. Supplementary Figure 2

    Krems-Wachtberg 2005-2006: Plot of the North Profile generated from the database with horizons and collected samples. (PDF 123 kb)

  3. Supplementary Figure 3

    Krems-Wachtberg 2005-2006: Surface models showing two subsequent phases of the main find layer and the features Pit 3, (Double-) Burial 1 and Burial 2. (PDF 166 kb)

  4. Supplementary Figure 4

    Krems-Wachtberg 2006: Detail of the West Profile showing Pit 3 as well as the main cultural layer AH 4 and archaeological horizon AH 5. Above Pit 3 several debris layers are visible. (PDF 158 kb)

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