15 August 2008

Graves in the Sahara Desert

In the Tenere Desert section of the Sahara, to be more specific - an area so desolate that the Tuareg call it a "desert within a desert." While searching for dinosaur bones, researchers from the University of Chicago encountered human graves dating back 5-10,000 years.
Human skeletons were eroding from the dunes, including jawbones with nearly full sets of teeth and finger bones of a tiny hand pointing up from the sand.

From an analysis of the skeletons and pottery, scientists identified the two successive cultures that occupied the settlement. The Kiffians, some of whom stood up to six feet tall, both men and women, lived there during the Sahara’s wettest period, between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago. They were primarily hunter-gatherers who speared huge lake perch with harpoons.

There are more details at the University of Chicago website:

One burial, however, brought 2006 activity at the site to a standstill: Lying on her side, the skeleton of a petite Tenerian woman emerged from the sand, facing the skeletons of two young children; their slender arms reached toward her and their hands were clasped in an everlasting embrace. Samples taken from under the skeletons contained pollen clusters — evidence the people had been laid out on a bed of flowers...

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