Shanidar, Iraq

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A high‐altitude cave site in the Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq excavated between 1950 and 1960 by Ralph Solecki. Thick deposits in the cave span many periods, the earliest of which dates to the Mousterian. It is from these levels that several Neanderthal skeletons dating to between 60 000 and 44 000 years ago have come, some thought to have been killed by rock falls. One Neanderthal was buried in a pit with flowers laid on the body and represented archaeologically by clusters of pollen. Another burial seems to have had his arm amputated at the elbow and lived for some time afterwards. Later deposits in the cave include Upper Palaeolithic levels dating to the Baradostian (c.33 000–27 000 years ago) and, at the top of the sequence, around 10 000 bc, Zarzian Culture levels with some evidence of early farming in the region.


R. S. Solecki, 1971, Shanidar—the first flower people. New York: Knopf

Subjects: Archaeology.

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