6,000-Year-Old Human Remains Discovered In Pit Shed Light On Cave’s Gruesome Past


Robert McGreevy Contributor
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Researchers found a 6,000-year-old burial pit in northern Spain, and it’s providing rare insight into some of the earliest Neolithic ancestors of humans, according to a study published in the Quarternary Science Reviews journal.

The pit, known as Galería del Sílex, is part of the Cueva Mayor system in the Sierra de Atapuerca mountains and was originally discovered in 1979, according to the study.

Human remains in the pit, once thought to be from 3,000 years ago, were reassessed after scientists found six ceramic vessels lying near the site, per the study. Radiocarbon dating was reportedly conducted on bone samples from three different subjects, the oldest of which was dated to around 6,250 years ago. (RELATED: 6,300-Year-Old Megalithic Builder Settlement Discovered)

Scientists believe it was a site specifically used for burials and funerary rituals because the remains were found three hundred meters from the main cave’s entrance, rather than in a domestic context within the cave.

“This suggests that Galería del Sílex could have been an area reserved for depositing deceased humans during the Early Neolithic,” the study noted.

Early Neolithic remains in the area are “not abundant,” according to the study, and hardly ever found in this context.

“The low population density of the first Neolithic settlers, in addition to their continuously changing settlements, could explain the lack of visibility of death from that period,” the study said.

The discovery of this potential funeral pit changes the scientific record in the region. The oldest bones discovered predate the known emergence of Neolithic funerary tradition by over 1,000 years, according to