Cannibals engraved bones of the dead

From BBC - August 10, 2017

A series of zig-zag marks on a human bone found in a UK cave is evidence of a cannibalistic ritual that took place some 15,000 years ago.

Scientists have long recognised that cannibals operated at Goughs Cave in Somerset, but were unsure whether the practice of eating other people had any symbolic significance.

Reporting in the journal Plos One, researchers say the unusual cuts on a forearm bone are deliberate.

They are not simple butchery markings.

Nor are they teeth marks.

What is more, the zig-zags appear to match designs used on other engraved objects from the same time period.

"The engraved motif on the Gough's Cave bone is similar to engravings observed in other Magdalenian European sites," said Silvia Bello from Londons Natural History Museum.

"However, what is exceptional in this case is the choice of raw material (human bone) and the cannibalistic context in which it was produced.

"The sequence of modifications performed on this bone suggests that the engraving was a purposeful component of the cannibalistic practice, rich in symbolic connotations.


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