Archaeology Magazine

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Twenty Stone-Age Skeletons Found in Sahara Desert

Thursday, March 07, 2013

libyan-stone-age-skeletonCAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Twenty skeletons have been found in and around a rock shelter in Libya’s Sahara Desert. The isotopes in their tooth enamel correspond with elements from the local environment, indicating that they had grown up and lived in the area. Fifteen of the skeletons represented women and children that had been buried in the rock shelter between 7,300 and 5,600 years ago. The remains of five men and juveniles had been buried under tumuli outside the rock shelter around 4,500 years ago, at a time when the region became more arid. Rock art in the area suggests that the people had herded cattle, which require more water, until climate change forced them to switch to keeping goats. The change in climate may be reflected in the patterns of the burials. “It must have been a place of memory. People throughout time have kept it, and they have buried their people, over and over, generation after generation,” said Mary Anne Tafuri of the University of Cambridge.