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Cannibalism, religious ritual?

Cannibalism, religious ritual?

Today this practice is associated with horror films, or was used in the last century to distinguish “civilized” people from others. Fossil hunters have identified traces left on human bones — similar to those left on animals that served as prey — in locations as diverse as the southwestern United States. A thousand years ago Or France 3000 years ago.

However, it is the fact that so many were found that suggests it was not an anomaly: up to 20% of European sites show such traces of cannibalism, the magazine reported. new world In its February 14 issue. This is true for both positions occupied by Neanderthals and Homo sapiens – suggesting, once again, that we typically encounter Very OldWhich cannot only be associated with periods of famine.

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But the difficulty in proving this last assertion is that there are already sites where archaeologists agree that a lack of food can explain the resort to cannibalism.

But here and there we guess the existence of rituals: for example, they have been reported research Last November, at sites dating back to the so-called Magdalene period in Europe – from 12 to 17,000 years ago – human bones were located with markings separate from animal bones. The marks in question sometimes contain zigzag patterns, suggesting effort or symbolism, rather than simple cutting.

The November study even identified a distinct genetic signature between groups from the same period that buried their dead and those who participated in these “rituals” — in other words, distinct cultures, perhaps generating distinct practices. These and other archaeologists conclude that, beyond the image given by popular culture, it is possible for certain forms of cannibalism to be analyzed as a form of “respect for the dead,” in the same way as collections. Who at the same time chose to be cremated or buried.

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