Brief Communications

Nature 444, 285 (16 November 2006) | doi:10.1038/444285a; Received 12 August 2006; Accepted 24 October 2006; Published online 15 November 2006

Upper Palaeolithic infant burials

Thomas Einwögerer1, Herwig Friesinger1, Marc Händel1, Christine Neugebauer-Maresch1, Ulrich Simon1 & Maria Teschler-Nicola2

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.

  1. Prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1010 Vienna, Austria
  2. Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum Vienna, 1010 Vienna, Austria

Correspondence to: Christine Neugebauer-Maresch1 Email: christine.neugebauer-maresch@oeaw.ac.at

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