The 8000-Year-Old Human Remains


via Flickr

The finding of the 8000-year-old mummies led scientists to believe people who lived in Portugal mummified people before the Egyptians did.

About 60 years ago, an archaeologist took photos of numerous skeletons buried in 8000-year-old graves in Sado Valley, Portugal. A new analysis of these skeletons led to the discovery that led to the conclusion that they weren’t from Chile, but Europe. 

More than a dozen bodies were discovered in Portugal during the excavation process in 1960, and at least one of them was mummified. After examining it, researchers don’t know exactly why they mummified it, but there were signs that many other buried skeletons were also mummified back then. This led to the assumption that not only did the people in Egypt mummify people during that time, but people living in this region used to mummify people even before the Egyptians. A lot of mummies were found in Egypt around 4500 years ago, and mummies were also found in Europe dating back to 1000 B.C. Still, these newly discovered mummies in Portugal are the oldest ever found, older than the mummies found in the coastal region of Chile’s Atacama Desert by more than 1000 years. 

Mummification is usually very straightforward, especially in dry weather just like the Atacama Desert, but in Europe, it is difficult to find evidence for it. In Europe, the weather conditions are a lot wetter, which means that the mummifying tissues rarely stay preserved. A famous bioarchaeologist, Rita Peyroteo-Stjerna, stated, “It’s very hard to make these observations, but it’s possible with combined methods and experimental work.” People were recently able to discover and research about this mummification from the photos and film taken by a Portuguese archaeologist, Manuel Farinha dos Santos, who unfortunately passed away in 2001. 

When people recently saw these photos, the content was unknown and gave archaeologists unique possibilities in discovering and exploring that certain region. After experimenting with the skeletons, they noticed that the skeletons were “hyperflex,” meaning that they were moved beyond their natural boundaries, which meant that they were tied up. Later on, the bindings were tightened up even more after their death. They also noticed that even after all these years, the bones were fully intact, even the little bones, such as those in one’s feet. Scientists are coming together and researching more and more each day about this interesting discovery of the 8000-year-old human remains.