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The Ancient Pit of Bones

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posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 06:23 AM

Say hello to the family!

Beneath the Atapuerca Mountains of northern Spain are some of the largest collections of early human remains in the world. Some date back 800 000 years. The ones from the Sima de los Huesos, or Pit of Bonesare dated back to 400 000 years ago. For reasons we can only speculate about...these people used a pit in a cave to throw their dead in. There's an estimated 5000 bones to be recovered...and one hand axe. Until their official discovery, young Spanish men would crawl a thousand yards to recover a bear tooth as a way to romance their girls.

So who were these people and what were they like?

They're classed as Homo Heidelbergensis, an ancestor of ours who populated areas of Europe for 200 000 years. They were intelligent, using fire and making stone tools...these are strong signs of community. The wooden spears found in Germany (ATS Thread link )would most likely be used by these people. By studying the ears, paleoanthropologists are fairly sure they had speech. They lived fairly violent lives according to the number of head wounds and injuries inflicted on their bones....disease was rife. Food was 'on the hoof' and wasn't always as docile as our modern sheep and cattle. These guys went after rhinos, elephants, bears and lions... Try and imagine how you'd feel facing down a ton of angry lion with a sharp stick and a rock? I doubt their lives were ever dull...the food maybe.

Is this how they carried their dead to the pit?

The mystery facing the anthropologists is just why did their dead end up in that cave? The caves have no evidence of being lived fires, no human waste. Some argue that the Pit of Bones is actually the earliest evidence of human burials. If they're right, it implies they had ideas of an afterlife...

Sources and links:
American Museum of Natural History: ATAPUERCA
John Hawkes Blog
Mauricio Antón’s SUPERB Paleonathropological Illustrations
Mauricio Antón’s website
Atapuerca dig wiki
Atapuerca Historia

[edit on 10-4-2010 by Kandinsky]

posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 06:58 AM
A couple of intriguing things turned up while I was reading about the Pit of Bones. One skull was of a child and had the features of craniosynostosis, interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, it shows that these people had the capacity to look after their weak and handicapped. If they didn't that poor kid never would've passed infancy. Secondly, there's an ongoing debate about elongated skulls on ATS. One argument is that it was 'emulated' from alien critters and sky gods. Perhaps skull-binding and modification was originally inspired by high status person with natural skull deformity? One person's 'freak of nature' is another's 'gift from the gods.' Who's to say?

Inspired by Berenike's recent thread, here's an image of one of the Heidels...


posted on Apr, 10 2010 @ 07:05 AM
S&F from me.

Excellent find. If I recall this is from around the same time period as the recent spear find. Together they give us a glimpse into their culture.

I can think of only 2 reasons for the pit of bones - though I admit its early and I'm only on my 1st cup of coffee.

Anyway - one would be disposal. Basic sanitation if you will. The other would be the believe in some type of afterlife. I'm thinking that either or a mix of both are within reason.

posted on Apr, 11 2010 @ 11:19 PM
reply to post by Kandinsky

Great find, they remind me of the Aborigines in Australia, makes me wonder how they got there in the first place.


posted on Apr, 12 2010 @ 09:29 PM
Great find mate!!

Looks like the "family" is getting together. If Neanderthal is our first cousins the Heidelbergensis must be either our father or an uncle

Frogs, maybe you are on to something. Dead bodies tend to stink the place up after a day or two, especially during the summer, so disposal is necessary. I would lean more towards this notion rather than the idea of them having thoughts of an afterlife. Practical Vs Spiritual, if you like.

Aquarius, who are you referring to? If it is the Australian Aborigines, then they got there by boat (raft more probably) after they had spread through Indonesia, about 60,000 years ago. What fascinates me about this is that they reached Australia before they entered Europe!!

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