5000-year-old site in Northern Europe may be a cemetery, 200 graves

5000-year-old site in Northern Europe may be a cemetery, 200 graves

5000-year-old site in Northern Europe may be a cemetery, 200 graves

The Tainiaro archaeological site in northern Finland is now seen as an important ancient burial ground from the Mesolithic period, roughly 5,000 to 4,000 years ago. 

Even though no evidence of any bones has ever been found from the site, when archaeologists compare the site’s features and use radiocarbon dating, it seems like Tainiaro is one of the biggest Mesolithic cemeteries in Northern Europe.

Excavations in the 1990s revealed evidence suggesting around 40 burials took place, challenging traditional views of the area’s prehistoric lifestyle. Despite the harsh conditions causing organic material decay, evidence of communities in the far north during the Mesolithic period has been uncovered.

The excavations revealed a substantial number of finds, but its interpretation as a cemetery remains a subject of debate.

A new study carried out by archaeologists has found that the site of Tainiaro was a large Stone Age cemetery of the fifth millennium BC where possibly 200 burials took place, rather than a previously estimated figure of 40.

The team interpreted 44 pits excavated at the site as burials. But, since only one-fifth of the site has been excavated, the total number could be more than 200. 

Largest cemetery in northern Europe?

It’s possibly one of the largest such cemetery sites to this period known in northern Europe, said the researchers.

In reviewing the archival material from the original excavations and undertaking further test excavations to confirm some of the findings, the team found signs of burning at the site, which meant that they could have been hearths.

This made the team wonder if the site was used for burials, homes, or making things from stones. Estimates suggest there could be between 115 and 200 burial pits with maybe up to 300 individuals, but the team isn’t sure about these numbers.

The pits seem to have different purposes, showing that the site was used for many things, not just burials. More research is needed to understand Tainiaro’s role in burials, experimenting with materials, and its connections to other hidden sites in the area.

“New soil samples could be analyzed for fossilized hair, which has been found in Stone Age graves in recent years,” said Aki Hakonen, an archaeologist at the University of Oulu in Finland and the study’s lead author.

“Chemical analyses, such as the collection of ancient DNA directly from the soil, may provide unequivocal evidence for the burial interpretation or reveal entirely new findings that will guide our understanding of the Stone Age society to an even more fascinating direction,” he added.

Source: Interesting Engineering

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5000-year-old site in Northern Europe may be a cemetery, 200 graves

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