Chronological and genetic analysis of an Upper Palaeolithic female infant burial from Borsuka Cave, Poland

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Abstract

Six infant human teeth and 112 animal tooth pendants from Borsuka Cave were identified as the oldest burial in Poland. However, uncertainties around the dating and the association of the teeth to the pendants have precluded their association with an Upper Palaeolithic archaeological industry. Using <67 mg per tooth, we combined dating and genetic analyses of two human teeth and six herbivore tooth pendants to address these questions. Our interdisciplinary approach yielded informative results despite limited sampling material, and high levels of degradation and contamination. Our results confirm the Palaeolithic origin of the human remains and herbivore pendants, and permit us to identify the infant as female and discuss the association of the assemblage with different Palaeolithic industries. This study exemplifies the progress that has been made toward minimally destructive methods and the benefits of integrating methods to maximize data retrieval from precious but highly degraded and contaminated prehistoric material.

Journal details

Journal iScience
Volume 26
Issue number 12
Pages 108283
Available online
Publication date

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author