What was life like 10,000 years ago? Colorado scientists form a better picture after uncovering the earliest known female infant burial site in Europe
Roughly 10,000 years ago, Earth was experiencing a time of critical change. The planet was leaving the Ice Age, near the end of a much larger pattern of warming and cooling climate events. This led to major changes in the environments people were living in.
Not long after, agriculture started to develop around the world and humans began to shift away from hunting and gathering — a shift that would have profound changes on human bodies, minds and culture for millennia to come. We’ve gained collective insight into the past through many archaeological findings, such as burial sites. But the further back you go, the fuzzier the picture becomes, particularly before about 9,000 years ago.
That takes us to the Arma Veirana Cave in northwestern Italy, where a team of researchers recently discovered the oldest infant burial site known in Europe. The team dated the infant back 10,000 years and have been working to better understand what life may have been like for this infant and her family all that time ago.
We speak with two Colorado scientists who have been closely involved with the discovery, analysis and work leading up to it all: Dr. Jamie Hodgkins, a paleoarchaeologist and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver; and Dr. Caley Orr, a paleoanthropologist and associate professor of cell and developmental biology at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
You can read the paper published by the team about the earliest female infant burial site for free here, and check out what the inside of the cave looks like on YouTube, in these videos from the team.