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Neolithic Tomb In Spain Revealed Community Stuck Together, Even In Death

First Posted: Jan 21, 2016 10:32 AM EST

Researchers have discovered a Neolithic Spanish burial site, which contains the skeletal remains of a close-knit group of people from a Neolithic community that existed 6000 years ago. The megalithic tomb was discovered in Alto de Reinoso, in Northern Spain. The findings of this study indicated to the researchers that people from this Neolithic community stayed together even in death.

Researchers believe that burial rituals in the modern-day Europe were introduced by the Neolithic people, who built megalithic tombs, which were used over a long period for collective burials and as a site for ritual acts.

The remains from the megalithic tomb enabled the researchers to create a comprehensive picture of the ancient community. The skeletal remains belonged to about 47 adults and adolescents, who were buried in the tomb. The DNA and isotope analysis of the remains indicated that the tomb contained family members from a close-knit community. These individuals were mostly likely farmers, who grew cereal grains and herded sheep and goats, according to the researchers.

"All the extensive data collected, including information on life style, demographics, health status, diet and subsistence, mobility patterns as well as the genetic profile of the group fit in with the typical way of life of sedentary farming populations at this time period," Kurt W. Alt, coauthor of the study, said in a news release.

The tomb comprised of three layers and most of the skeletons showed signs of manipulation, where skulls and other bones were missing. The researchers believe that this indicates a shift in the use of the tomb.

"The embracement of a collective burial chamber for the community members rather than individual graves indicates significant shifts in social identity," Alt said.

The findings of this study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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