Bodies found in Neolithic pit were likely victims of ritualistic murder

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2024-04-17

View taken from the upper part of the 255 storage pit showing the three skeletons, with one individual in a central position

Enlarge / Three female skeletons found in a Neolithic storage pit in France show signs of ritualistic human sacrifice. (credit: . Beeching/Ludes et al., 2024)

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two women in a Neolithic tomb in France, with the positioning of the bodies suggesting they may have been ritualistically murdered by asphyxia or self-strangulation, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances.

(WARNING: graphic descriptions below.)

France's Rhône Valley is home to several archaeological sites dating to the end of the Middle Neolithic period (between 4250 and 3600/3500 BCE in the region); the sites include various storage silos, broken grindstones, imported ceramics, animal remains (both from communal meals and sacrifices), and human remains deposited in sepulchral pits. Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux is one such site.

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