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13 November 2013
Preparing for death in Bronze Age Scotland

The discovery of 3 cists in southwest Scotland in close proximity to one another has intrigued archaeologists. One contained the burial of a juvenile, while the other two had never been used for the burial of human remains. There were no artefacts present with the burial and no evidence of botanical offerings. The dead juvenile had been placed in a crouch position, facing north with its head resting on the left hand and the right hand placed near the pelvis.
     The skeletal remains were analysed, and the age estimated at nine to twelve years old - too young to determine the sex. Although the cause of death is unknown, it was noted that the child had suffered at least two episodes of malnutrition. Radiocarbon dating placed the individual into the early Bronze Age.
     Warren Bailie, who led the archaeological team said, "Perhaps this was a conscious attempt by a group or family related to the young individual who was buried here, to set aside graves in the immediate vicinity for future use. This may represent rare evidence of the possible movement of groups and the loss or abandonment of ritual sites in an otherwise settled landscape during the Bronze Age period."
     Jennifer Brown, one of the contributors to the report, notes that, "This work also shows that we cannot assume that the construction of the cists we discover is necessarily contemporary with the burial of the bodies contained therein."

Edited from Past Horizons (6 November 2013)

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