"EACH soul was created by God to be immortal
and individual, irrevocably connected to the afterlife."

The earliest discovered burial sites are those of Neanderthal man, though according to researcher George Constable, they “were not credited with deliberate meaningful burial of their dead until more than a half-century after their discovery.” The well-known anthropologist and archaeologist Louis Leaky said of the discoveries that their grave sites were intentional and thus indicates the Neanderthals displayed a keen selfawareness and a concern for the human spirit. Many burial sites have been discovered in Europe and the Near East. The placement of the remains reveals ritualistic elements, as the cadavers were found in a sleeping or fetal position. Some remains have also been found with plants or flowers, placed in the hands or the body, and sometimes with red pigment, possibly used in a symbolic rite. Some Neanderthals were found buried together in a group, meaning that entire family
groups remained united after death.
One of the most interesting burial sites contained remains that had been carefully placed in the fetal position on a bedding of woody horsetail, a regional plant. This particular Neanderthal was also buried with several varieties of flowers. Leaky stated that the flowers were arranged deliberately as the body was being covered. Apparently the family and friends of the deceased gathered the distinct species of flowers, carried them to the grave, and carefully placed them on the body.
An analysis of the flower specimens revealed them to be cornflowers, St. Banaby’s thistle, and grape hyacinths, among other plants. Many of the plants found have curative qualities that range from pain relief to inflammation suppression. It is not known if Neanderthals were advanced enough to realize the exact medicinal properties of the plants to their specific uses, or if this was only a coincidental placement of flowers and herbs. Or perhaps they were honoring a special person of the tribe, such as a medicine man or shaman. Regardless, it is evident that Neanderthal man was much more complex than he was given credit for.

History of Burial

70,000 B.C.E.
Earliest discovered burial sites of Neanderthal man.
3600 B.C.E.
Earliest known attempts to mummify bodies in Egypt.
3000 B.C.E.
Ancient Chileans mummify bodies.
1000 B.C.E.
Ancient Greeks cremate their dead.
625 B.C.E.
Mourners in Ancient Greece place metal coins under the tongues of
the dead.
600 B.C.E.
Romans cremate their dead.


The History Channel - This Day in History - Lead Story